Lebanese filmmaker Hania Mroue, a member of the prestigious jury for the Best First Feature Award* at the Berlinale last week, has quite a track record.
A champion of independent Arab cinema, she heads a distribution company, co-founded a production company, manages Beirut’s Cinema Days, and promoted Euromed Audiovisual’s Med Screen project to support the Arab film industry of the South Mediterranean. As well as joining the jury at this year’s Berlinale, she also spoke on its panel “Filmmakers and the Arab Spring: Documenting revolution,” organised during World Cinema Fund Day in partnership with Euromed Audiovisual.
Mroue is the founder and director of the Metropolis Art Cinema, the first art-house cinema in Lebanon, which opened in 2006 and aims to support regional and international productions by screening alternative cinema, including recent independent titles, cult films, creative documentaries, and experimental videos.
In 2009, she started MC Distribution, a distribution company specialised in Arab independent titles, and she is also a founding member of Beirut DC, the Lebanese Cultural Association for Cinema production created in 1998, to produce and promote independent Arab cinema, creating a network between Arab filmmakers and establishing a media library specially to archive independent Arab works.
She is also the managing director of Ayam Beirut al-Sinemaiya (or Cinema Days of Beirut), a bi-annual Arab Film Festival initiated and organised by Beirut DC to promote recent independent Arab productions, and is Chief Arab Programmer for the Doha Film Institute in Qatar.
On top of all this, Mroue was promoted Euromed Audiovisual’s Med Screen project to endorse the Arab film industry of the eight Arab countries of the South Mediterranean, by enhancing the visibility of films produced in these countries to increase their chances of being commercialised. Med-Screen notably set up the Arab Cinema Directory, organised Arab film weeks in cinemas around Europe as well as in the South Mediterranean. The project aimed to support Arab film right holders to attend the main film markets in Europe, at the Cannes Film Market and the European Film Market at the Berlinale.
“We all know that it¹s impossible to create a change in just three years of work,” Mroue tells Euromed Audiovisual in this interview. “Nowadays, Arab films have become attractive. Certainly, this was due to the political situation, but in my opinion our promotional activity during the Med Screen project for Arab films has also visibly contributed, because we helped film programmers in festivals to find what they are looking for.”
"Efforts should continue to be made to create real change in the film industry in the Arab world,” she says, “and funds should be used to ... promote and distribute the films produced in our region".
*The Best First Feature Award is given annually to the best debut film, considering films from the Competition, the Panorama, the Generation, the Forum or the Perspektive Deutsches Kino programmes. The other two members of the 2012 Jury were, Moritz Rinke and Matthew Modine.