To mark the first anniversary of the Arab Spring, insurgency and poetry are the themes of the Berlinale film festival this year, and Euromed Audiovisual is going to be part of it. Euromed Audiovisual is sponsoring three panels at the Berlinale and a lunch on February 15.
The Berlin International Film Festival is often seen as the political platform for films and filmmakers from all over the world because of its commitment to fostering emerging cinema, through the European Film Market, the Co-Production Market, the World Cinema Fund, and the Talent Campus. This year, European Union’s programme is teaming up with the Talent Campus from February 11 to 16 and World Cinema Fund day on February 15.
World Cinema Fund day will focus on Syria and documenting revolutions, with guest panelists, invited by Euromed Audiovisual, including Syrian filmmaker and producer Hala al-Abdallah who has been working on her documentary As If We Were Catching a Cobra, Syrian journalist and human rights activist Mohamed Ali Attassi, and Tunisian filmmaker Nadia el-Fani.
The Berlinale continues to encourage talents from the South Mediterranean, notably through the six-day Talent Campus to change the perspectives of 350 emerging filmmakers from all other the world, including 23 from the South Mediterranean.
These promising film professionals, selected from over 3,000 applicants, will be invited to learn from 150 first-class experts through master classes, workshops, and one-to-one meetings. Moroccan writer and poet Tahar Ben Jelloun has been invited by the Euromed Audiovisual Programme to take part in one panel discussion. At latest news, other names included director Mark Cousins, production designer Habib Zargarpour from The Bourne Identity, and actor Keanu Reeves.
Abdullah al-Ghaly, 27, is the first Lybian to participate ever in the Talent Campus. He will travel to Germany next month, for the second time after the Leipzig festival last October, with a documentary-in-the-making that fits very well with the themes of this year’s festival. Cairo - Ar-Rehibat is still being shot, he said, and follows once-in-a-lifetime trip from Cairo where he was brought up and participated in the Egyptian revolution to his home town of Ar-Rehibat in Lybia during the Libyan uprising in August 2011.
“Before the [Egyptian] revolution, they dealt with me as if I was a Lybian, but when it started on January 25, I decided to go with them into the square, to be Egyptian,” he told Euromed Audiovisual by phone. The film is to discuss his dual identity, and to explore the characters of his father, an ex-officer in the Libyan army who fled Lybia 30 years ago, and his brother, a revolutionary wanted by the Lybian regime.
It is al-Ghaly’s first time at the Berlinale Talent Campus and he is excited to meet the other filmmakers as well as the experts, he said.
Among them, he may meet Rafael Balulu, from Israel, whose film Batman at the Checkpoint is competing as a finalist in the Talent Campus’ Berlin Today Award 2012. The film is a “fantastic naturalist” story of two families, one Israeli and one Palestinian in their cars at a checkpoint that degenerates into a fight over a Batman toy
South Mediterranean cinema will also feature strongly at the European Film Market (EFM), the business centre of the festival. Cross-Mediterranean documentary co-productions to be screened include the Lebanese-German-Canadian Gate #5 by Simon El Habre, and the French-Qatari-Egyptian The Virgin, the Copts, and Me by Namir Abdel Messeeh. Co-produced feature films to be shown include the Belgian-French-Moroccan-Emirati Death for Sale by Faouzi Ben Saidi, and the Moroccan-French-Belgian The Rif Lover by Narjiss Nejjar.
EFM participants will also see feature film Asmaa by Amr Salaama and documentary In the Shadow of a Man by Hanan Abdallah from Egypt, along with My Brother the Devil by Welsh-Egyptian director Sally el-Hossaini, who recently won an award at Sundance for the film's cinematography.
The Euromed Audiovisual - Berlinale partnership is the latest of the European Commission's Euromed Audiovisual programme’s efforts to strengthen cinema in the South Mediterranean and to reinforce mutual dialogue and understanding through cinema.
The Berlinale World Cinema Fund supports filmmakers in developing countries and regions which lack a constructive film industry, including North Africa and the Middle East, and aims to to help the realisation of films that otherwise could not be produced, such as feature films and creative feature-length documentaries that show strong cultural identity or an innovative artistic concept.
Tune in to the Berlinale website, for an update on events.