Five Egyptian films to participate in 64th Berlin film festival

The 64th Berlinale, Europe's first major film festival of the year, kicks off on 6 February and features five films by Egyptian directors

Ahram Online and AFP, Monday 3 Feb 2014,
Om Amira
Still from Om Amira.

The 64th Berlinale, or Berlin International Film Festival, features two documentaries, a short film and two video art projects from Egypt.

The Berlinale marks the first major European festival of the year and serves as a launchpad for Hollywood fare and independent movies from around the world.

Dubbed the "most daring section of the Berlinale," the International Forum of New Cinema, or Forum 2014, will feature four films by Egyptian directors.

Jehane Noujaim's The Square will be screened at the Forum. The two-hour documentary that chronicles more than two years of revolution and political upheaval, is the first Egyptian film to receive an Academy Award nomination.

The Forum will also screen another documentary from Egypt, Arij: Scent of a Revolution, directed by Viola Shafik. In Arij, four different storytellers (two in Luxor and two others in Cairo) recount their experiences in Egypt, creating a web of narratives to view the revolution.
From behind the monument by Cairo-based visual artist and filmmaker Jasmina Metwaly will be screened at the Forum. Metwaly is co-founder of the 8784 h project and a founding member of Mosireen video collective. With a narrative constructed around Mohamed Mahmoud Street in Cairo–the site of violent clashes between protesters and riot police in November 2011–the film tackles the relationship between the image, the spectacle, and the spectator. The 16-minute film seeks to explore how political images become spectacles of reality.

Shooting Stars Remind Me of Eavesdroppers by Maha Maamoun, an Egyptian artist and founding member of the Contemporary Image Collective (CIC) in Cairo, will also be screened as part of the Forum. The five-minute work employs photography and video to study the representation of particular events and its links with political identities and hegemonic narratives. Examining the ears as pathways to either acceptance or rejection, the work examines the act of listening and the listener's status.

Meanwhile, Egyptian filmmaker Naji Ismail's documentary Om Amira will be screened within the Berlinale Shorts Competition. Om Amira was produced in 2013 upon the initiative of ANA HUNNA (I Am Here), an organisation aiming to strengthen the voices of financially and socially underprivileged communities, promoting women in Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia and Morocco. The film is narrated by Om Amira (Amira's Mother), an Egyptian woman struggling to make ends meet while desperately trying to help her sick daughter Amira recover. The film is a moving portrayal of the life of millions of Egyptian women from the lower-middle socio-economic classes.

US producer James Schamus (Brokeback Mountain and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) will lead a jury including Oscar-winning Austrian actor Christoph Waltz, Hong Kong star Tony Leung and French filmmaker Michel Gondry.

The festival will screen more than 400 films in cinemas across the German capital. Many of the hottest tickets are for movies outside the main competition.

Launched in 2006, Forum Expanded features film, video, installation, and performance tackling various themes, presented at a number of venues in Berlin.

The festival runs from 6-16 February in Berlin.

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