Filmmakers hold conference to discuss future of Egyptian cinema

Menna Taher, Friday 27 May 2011

A conference to discuss the future of cinema and the problems that the industry is facing was held on Thursday 26 May at the Cairo International Conference Centre

The conference, headed by film producer Mohamed El Adl, discussed several issues within the film business, but the emphasis was on the current limited budget in the industry and on possible ways to get around it.

Many called for movies with lower budgets and the importance of the artistic quality of films.

Mohamed Hefzy, who produced the independent film Microphone, suggested that large production companies should fund commercial films that will make money, and use the capital to support low-budget, independent films.

The film director Mohamed Khan said that what is missing in the industry is the small producer who tells the story of the making of the film, such as Taer Ala El Tareek (Bird on the Road), where he is approached by a man asking if he has a film.

Khairy Beshara, one of the old-guard directors, said that he could not contribute as he has never made films for the market. “Ten years ago I expected that one day film-making would cost almost nothing and that all that would be required would be a camera,” going on to say that he endorses the low-budget type of cinema.

Sound engineer Gasser Khorshed said that there should be funds available specifically for cinematic endeavours, a viewpoint also held by film director Aly Badrakhan.

Abdel Galil El Sharnouby, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood and editor-in-chief of the website Islam Online, denounced censorship and called for freedom of expression.  He said that liberals, leftists and the Muslim Brotherhood should be able to offer their views freely without any discrimination. However, he refused to answer when asked if he believes there should be any limitations.

The conference closed with several announcements from El Adl. He said that cinemas should screen digital films and that the monopoly over the industry should end. He also called for independent coalitions and a company for independent films.

Another issue he raised is the blacklist of actors and filmmakers, which was drawn up after they spoke on national television disparaging the protestors during the 25 January revolution. He said that any blacklist should be abolished because it only leads to cracks within the industry.

He finished by announcing that there will be a larger conference held soon to schedule future plans and projects



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