Voting has started for online film fest Your Film Festival! From this week until July 13, internet users can decide which of the YouTube competition’s 50 semi-finalists should make it to the next round, and perhaps win a $500,000 film grant.
Four films from the South Mediterranean have made it to the semi-finals of this “do-it-yourself” film festival, from over 15,000 submissions from 160 countries: On My Doorstep by Anat Costi and Photo for Baba by Harel Yana and Moti Malka from Israel, This Time by Ramy el-Gabry from Egypt, and Super. Full. by Niam Itani from Lebanon.
Lebanese filmmaker Niam Itani’s Super. Full. tells the story of a very poor couple living in a very rich city. Itani received a grant from the Doha Film Institute (DFI) to make the film after its screenplay, originally written as a silent film, won Best Screenplay at the Mira Nair Foundation’s MAISHA Screenwriting Lab.
In Super. Full., Itani’s two main characters are deaf and her actors, a contact at the DFI and a colleague from Al Jazeera, both had to learn sign language for the film, the filmmaker told Euromed Audiovisual. Once they had learnt their silent lines, they had to stick to them, because their sign language coach couldn’t be on set, she said.
Itani is currently working on her debut feature, Shadow of a Man, about a car mechanic in the mountains in Lebanon, for which she has participated in Med Film Factory, a programme for directors and producers co-financed by Euromed Audiovisual. She hopes that the YouTube competition will give her exposure for her next film, but says that it is good enough to have made it to this stage.
“I don’t really care about prizes, I just want to make more films!” she said.
But in Egypt, Ramy el-Gabry definitely hopes to make it to the next round, when the 10 elected finalists fly to the Venice International Film Festival where a grand prize jury of industry professionals, including film director Ridley Scott and actor Michael Fassbender, will select the winner.
His film This Time shows an elderly woman waiting for her son on a bench by the Nile. Egyptian actress Awatef Hilmi agreed to play the role pro bono, el-Gabry told Euromed Audiovisual, because she liked the story. El-Gabry hopes that the cautionary tale, inspired by Egyptian folklore, will inspire those who see it to be kinder to their mothers.
“If I can change one bad person to be good, that’s enough for me,” said the media graduate who has been making short films for the last two and a half years.
Among the four Middle Eastern semi-finalists, the only one to evoke current politics in the region is Photo for Baba by Harel Yana and Moti Malka, a story that spans across the Mediterranean from Tunisia to Germany, set after the beginning of the Tunisian revolution.
The other Israeli semi-finalist, animated short On My Doorstep by Anat Costi, was screened at the Cannes Film Festival in the Cinefondation Selection in 2011.
To watch all 50 selected short films and vote for your favourite, please click here.
This Time - trailer