Misr International Films (MIF) will be launching their highly anticipated initiative 'Zawya' on Wednesday 12 March, with a screening of internationally acclaimed Saudi film Wadjda, directed by Haifaa Al-Mansour.
Zawya is an alternative cinema project that will screen arthouse films, both local and international, that do not normally make it to screens in Egypt at a number of movie theatres around the country. The first permanent venue for the project is the newly-renovated Cinema Odeon in downtown Cairo.
The opening film, Wadjda, will be showing in Cinema Odeon for a week, although the run might be extended.
Zawya aims to focus on local independent productions, in order to support and promote the work of young Egyptian filmmakers who often lack the means to distribute their work and give it the viewing opportunity it deserves.
The initiative will also hold film discussions, master classes in related topics, and retrospectives throughout the coming year.
Zawya was originally intended as an extension to MIF's Panorama of the European Film, which was launched in 2004 and has ever since become one of Cairo's most eagerly-awaited cinematic events, but with a wider scope. Films will also be showing for longer periods of time than at the Panorama.
"The Panorama is more than a series of film screenings; it is an ongoing process aimed at altering viewership trends and film culture in Egypt," director and producer Marianne Khoury, who founded the Panorama, told Ahram Online in a November 2013 interview. “I am aware that one week a year is not enough to achieve that, and this is why we are launching Zawya; an extension that will keep the Panorama working all year long.”
“Today, young people who love cinema end up downloading pirated films from the Internet because it’s the only way they can watch them,” Khoury said. “I can’t blame them when they have no other choice, but now, with Zawya, they do. The best films from Europe and the Arab world will finally be available in Egyptian movie theatres.”
Zawya also hopes to build on the Panorama’s 'Education and Cinema' initiative, helping to bring cinema into education by partnering with numerous schools and universities throughout the country.