Screen International announced on Sunday the names of five of the most talented and promising actors and directors from across the Middle East and North Africa who have been selected for the third edition of its talent-spotting initiative Arab Stars of Tomorrow.
The stars selected are: Egyptian filmmaker and writer Kawthar Younis, Moroccan actress Nisrin Erradi, Tunisian actor Farès Landoulsi, Palestinian filmmaker Wisam Al-Jafari and filmmaker Raed Alsemari from Saudi Arabia.
The initiative was launched this year at the 41st edition of the Cairo International Film Festival and is supported by Front Row and Kuwait National Cinema Company (KNCC).
The announcement was made during the Festival’s Cairo Industry Days, and later during the day a special panel discussion brought together Screen International with the Arab Stars of Tomorrow at the Hanager Theatre in Cairo.
Curated and selected by Screen International’s Middle East correspondent Melanie Goodfellow, who also hosted the discussion with the Stars, the event gave the artists a chance to talk about their work, challenges and plans for the future. Unfortunately, the discussion was not attended by Wisam Al-Jafari who, as Goodfellow clarified in her introduction, encountered problems in obtaining travel documents.
Each of the chosen Stars of Tomorrow shines with a unique strength in his or her creative practice.
Egyptian Kawthar Younis is best known for her graduation documentary film A Present from the Past, which brought her significant acclaim among Egyptian audiences.
Moroccan actress Nisrin Erradi was lauded for her role in this year’s feature Adam, screened in the Un Certain Regard at the Cannes Film Festival, and she has a promising appearance in the upcoming feature Poissons Rouges.
Farès Landoulsi from Tunisia will soon be featured in the upcoming Netflix drama Messiah, a film which is his first international appearance and which, as the actor revealed, was a wonderful learning experience and a rewarding creative process.
Saudi filmmaker Raed Alsemari’s Dunya’s Day brought him significant success when the short was the first film to be screened commercially in Saudi Arabia, followed by the Jury Award for International Fiction at the Sundance Film Festival (2019).
Finally Palestinian filmmaker Wisam Al-Jafari is the winner of the third prize of the Cinéfondation Selection at the Cannes Film Festival for his film Ambience.
While introducing the Screen International’s Arab Stars of Tomorrow, Goodfellow explained that “Screen is based in London and specialised in covering the world cinema industry. Since 2004, every year we feature UK Stars of Tomorrow. Five years ago we decided to launch Arab Stars of Tomorrow, focusing on the talents from MENA region.
With the MENA region covering a large geographical and cultural territory, Goodfellow agreed that the choice is not easy.
“It is very hard to select and narrow the Stars to five artists. We do not really have a specific criteria since talent is very arbitrary. When creating a list of potential stars, I talk to many people involved in the cinema industry across the region: they are producers, sales agents, festival programmers, among others.”
Goodfellow underlined, however, that the final choice is not swayed by the personal preferences of those who recommend the artists.
“For instance, producer and CIFF president Mohamed Hefzy would be an excellent person to direct our choice. However, since we are hosted by the CIFF and the festival is our partner this year, we could not discuss those choices with Hefzy,” Goodfellow explained.
Trying to remain as balanced as possible, Screen International also takes into consideration variety: looking at different cinematography styles, men and women, different countries and cultures; so the final Stars of Tomorrow represent a large segment of film currents and practices.
Through its vast network and partners, Screen International sheds light and supports Arab Stars of Tomorrow. The Stars are also featured in Screen’s printed publication as well as online.
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