The iconic American filmmaker, Steven Spielberg, once said, “You shouldn’t dream your film, you should make it”. The ingenuity behind the phrase lies in the metaphor. Whether it’s an actual film or a mental picture of your goals and objectives in life, you shouldn’t let your hopes and dreams live rent-free in your imagination. Explore the world and change these fictional dreams into a non-fictional reality. Following this perception, every year, aspiring Egyptian filmmakers submit entries to international film festivals. As big movie fans, we decided to check some of the top international film festivals this year for any Egyptian entries that received recognition for their amazing contributions.
Unfortunately, we didn’t get lucky, either in America, at the Sundance Film Festival or the SXSW Film Festival, nor in Germany at the Berlin International Film Festival. We were starting to grow weary until we came across three amazing Egyptian works of art in an article by Egyptian Streets! We proudly introduce to you Tribeca Film Festival’s Jebel Banat (2018), Cannes Film Festival’s Fakh (2019), and Brooklyn Film Festival’s Between Two Seas (2018).
Additionally, the short film Deeply Absurd Lucidity (2018) has not only been representing Egypt in 14 international film festivals – like Le Petite De Cannes, Detmold ISFF, and Shnit Worldwide Short Film Festival – it has also managed to garner very prestigious international awards: Queens World Film Festival (nominated for Best Experimental Film & received special Jury award “Freedom of Expression”), Bangkok Thai International Film Festival (received Best Experimental Short Film Award), Fic La Paz – La Paz International Film Festival (received Best Experimental Short Film Award), and First Hermetic International Film Festival in Venice (received Ficino Award – Best Editing).
Let’s take them one by one. Jebel Banat is a short film, directed by Egyptian-American director, Sherine Atef, and most importantly, just won the Student Visionary Award this month at the TFF! According to Egyptian Streets, the story is inspired by a legend of two Bedouin sisters, who escape a forced marriage in pursuit of freedom by fleeing into the desert and hiding on a mountain. The drama vividly explores the themes of sisterhood, inseparable ties, and the challenges of traditions.
Although the 20-minute, short fiction, Fakh, directed by fellow female director and screenwriter, Nada Riyadh, did not take the trophy home this May, it was still an honour, nonetheless, to be the only Egyptian entry during the International Critics Week at the CFF. The film portrays a day in the life of a young unmarried couple in Al-Agamy. Tension occurs between the two when the girl reveals she wants the relationship to end, with the brutality and ugliness of an abusive relationship, ultimately destroying any possibility of love.
Anas Tolba brings us a feature-length film, Between Two Seas. The plotline is about a woman called Zahra who visits her rural home village near Cairo after her daughter had a tragic accident. Seeking justice for her daughter, the Zahra persists on getting her daughter’s right to continue her education, while also serving her community. The film sheds light on various societal issues faced by women, especially in rural areas.
Last, but most definitely not least, the experimental short film, Deeply Absurd Lucidity, takes as its primary subject “A man trapped in a limbo of absurd and randomly projected visions that seem to be driven by an obscure shape-shifter who has hacked into his mental and emotional intelligence. The conceptual intent is to create a film that is viewed from a different perspective and approach than what is aesthetically normal. Creating an atmosphere of uncertainty, tension, and dark humor through fast information that is metaphorically symbolic to history, knowledge, and culture programmed into the protagonist’s mind and emotional intelligence.”
If you’re an Egyptian filmmaker, who feels like he has missed his window of opportunity, the year is still not over! You still have a chance to submit your entries for the Toronto International Film Festival as the deadline is on June 14th, and many others. Sadly, the submissions for the Venice International Film Festival, the Taormina Film Fest in Italy, and the Melbourne Film Festival in the “Land Down Under” have passed. However, you can catch this year’s winners, possibly Egyptian winners, in a few months when the festivals take place.