DIFF Daily 2010

Dubai Film Forum: ‘Focus on Egyptian Cinema’ panel

Dec 16,2010 - 11:56 AM

A fearless generation of independent filmmakers is emerging out of Egypt, one willing to tackle previously taboo subjects, skirt censorship issues and embrace financial risk where necessary.
Typical of this new breed is Mohammed Diab, whose movie, ‘Six, Seven, Eight’, had its first screening at DIFF earlier this week. Speaking on a panel discussion on the state of Egyptian cinema, Diab acknowledged that he took on a big gamble with this film, whose story revolves around sexual harassment, to the point where his personal finances were affected.
Inevitably, funding issues dominated the discussion, with all the panellists stressing the importance of financial and distribution support from outside Egypt. ‘With the difficulty in funding,’ says Diab, ‘co-production has become the trend, which is what we are hoping to achieve from going to festivals.’
This is no less true of non-fiction films, an emerging new component of Egyptian cinema. While budgets may be lower, Wael Omar said being a documentary filmmaker is just as challenging. ‘Documentary is still seen as the poor cousin of feature films.’
Among those attending the panel discussion was the American stand-up comedian, who happens to be of Egyptian origin, Ronnie Khalil. When asked whether he felt Egypt’s cinema identity has been sacrificed to the forces commercialism, he said: ‘The identity is definitely changing. Bear in mind that only story-driven movies can compete in an international market.’
On the flipside, Egyptian filmmakers are also making progress by seeking out greater international attention. Khalil himself has recently ventured into the movie business with a new film called ‘Seducing Laila.’ In his case, funding was not quite as challenging as his project was co-financed by a combination of Egyptian and US money.

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