On Saturday January 14th, Cairo will become number 132 on the list of networked cities that have come to share the best short films from around the world under the Future Shorts banner. Describing their events as ‘pop-up’ film festivals, Future Shorts has been built on the principles of accessibility, autonomy and innovation. As a network, the Future Shorts Film Festivals champion the best short films from around the globe and circulate them to participating cities.
Four film enthusiasts, Salma and Kareem El-Shaffei, Sara El Adl and Mostafa Talaat, have brought the Future Shorts matrix to Cairo for what will hopefully be the first of many events to come. The inaugural festival couldn’t have come at a better time as co-organiser Kareem El Shaffei testifies in their press release: ‘When the revolution took place there was a natural yet unexpected surge of artistic expression that had been suppressed. This is the best time to bring the world's biggest pop-up film festival to Egypt - everyone is thirsty for art.’
Twenty-five year-old art buff El –Shaffei hits on two important notes. While there has never been a shortage of creative energy in Egypt, there’s no doubt that prior to last January, it was seldom celebrated and the product of said creativity was never more than fleeting in exposure.
Film in particular has suffered for one reason or another; lack of funding and subsequent lack of mainstream interest being the two main reasons. This is where short films come in. As a platform, the short film is an art unto itself. Filmmaking is the most financially demanding of artistic pursuits, but the creative span of short film allows much more. Exposure to a huge network like Future Shorts can breathe life into young filmmakers. More than just having access to some world class award-winning films; it can inspire and motivate.
One of the films to be screened on Saturday is Mohamed Hammad’s Ahmar Bahet (Pale Red), which won Best Short Film honours at the Alexandria Film Festival and the Kazan Film Festival in 2011. The film follows Shaimaa as she struggles through sexual adolescence. Usually, a film like this might otherwise be dismissed as peripheral, but the fact that it has been picked up internationally and subsequently by Future Shorts should serve as a mark of progress.
Also being screened at the event is The Eagleman Stag, a BAFTA-winning stop-motion film that also picked up honours at the Los Angeles Film Festival, and Oscar-winning God of Love; a quirky comedy about a love-struck darts player who gets a hold of love-inducing darts, as well as Argentinian surrealist film Luminaris.
Revolution or not, El Shaffei is right about one thing; now is the time for filmmakers in Egypt to take heed from their equals abroad.
Future Shorts will take place at Amuse in Zamalek, and the evening will open with a live performance by folk-rock singer Nadya Shanab. Tickets cost 75LE and are available at the Maadi, Zamalek and Heliopolis branches of Diwan, or you can book via Tazkarty.