Though Egypt did not make it to the main competition of this year's Berlinale -- scheduled to run between 11 and 21 February -- there is a significant presence of Egyptian filmmakers and other artists in the festival.
First and foremost, the long awaited film Akher Ayyam El-Medina (In the Last Days of the City) directed by Tamer El-Said and starring Khalid Abdalla, will make it's world premiere in the Berlinale Forum section. This is the only Egyptian entry to this section of Berlinale 2016.
The film will be screened among the 44 films in the forum's main programme.
According to a note about the film released by the Berlinale organisers, El-Said's feature sees his alter-ego Khalid star as a Cairo-based film-maker strugging to make a film about the city, which is in a state of uproar.
El-Said first introduced the project to Abdalla as early as 2007, but the British-Egyptian actor was then busy with Green Zone, a 2010 British-French-American war thriller.
In Ahram Online's interview with Khalid Abdalla published in December, he called his work with El-Said "an extraordinary collaboration.”
The shooting of the film began in 2008, taking the filmmakers to Cairo, Alexandria, Beirut, Baghdad, and Berlin and bringing together many talents from the Arab world.
Another section of the festival is Forum Expanded.
This year, following the theme 'Traversing the Phantasm', the forum will present 32 films of different lengths, 15 installations, one lecture performance, and a reading.
Five films directed by Egyptian filmmakers or with Egyptian cast will be screened. They are: Expired by Islam Kamal, Fathy La Yaeesh Hona Baad Ala'n (Fathy Doesn't Live Here Anymore) by Maged Nader, Zakerat Abad El Shams (A Stroll Down Sunflower Lane) by Mayye Zayed and Kama Tohalleq al Teyour (As Birds Flying) by Heba Amin, Moderation by Anja Kirschner (Greece/Italy/Egypt/United Kingdom).
A special reading of The Hanging Garden of Sleep by Haytham El-Wardany (Germany/Egypt) will be the only such manifestation in Forum Expanded section.
Within the same Forum and on another note, Egypt will also return through a display of unique photographs. Displayed within the Visionary Archives segment of Forum Expanded, the exhibition's title is self explanatory as it states: The Unbelievable Photos Taken by the Crazy Russians Who Illegally Climbed Egypt’s Great Pyramid.
(Photo: still from Moderation film, part of Forum Expanded 2016)
On the other hand, the two Egyptian candidates – film distributor Ahmed Sobky and film critic and journalist Rasha Hosny – are among 300 emerging film and drama series professionals invited from 79 countries, to the Berlinale Talents, an event which takes place between 13 and 18 February.
The nominated talents were chosen from a group of 2,648 applicants from 118 countries. The candidates are selected by an international committee on the basis of prior achievements, the resonance and relevance of their work, as well as exceptional promise.
The 2016 group, who will take part in a six-day programme featuring over 100 events, is comprised of professionals from the fields of directing, producing, acting, screenwriting, cinematography, editing, production design, film criticism, sales and distribution, sound design, and score composing.
The Berlin International Film Festival will take place between 11 and 22 February.
Berlinale Talents (Photo: courtesy of Berlinale press office)
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