TROPFEST short film festival calls for submissions

Menna Taher, Saturday 4 Jun 2011

TROPFEST spelled out to a sizeable, eager Arab audience its requirements for participation in the short film festival, who were noticeably disappointed by the ‘no politics’ clause


The largest short film festival, TROFEST, held a highly-attended session in Rawabet Theatre, Cairo, to explain the requirements for participation and hosted a lecture by two young Egyptian filmmakers, Ayten Amin and Mohamed Diab.

The festival welcomes first-timers and amateurs to send in their work under the condition that it is made solely for the festival and that the TSI icon, which changes every year, appears in the film. This year’s icon is “STAR”.

The Abu Dhabi and Australia-linked film festival requires that the films be no more than seven minutes in duration and that they not tap into any issues relating to politics and religion - which was received with dissatisfaction from the audience.

The organisers explained, furthermore, that filmmakers should be also culturally sensitive (i.e. no nudity scenes, etc).

During the evening, three short films that have won in the previous years were screened: Marry Me, an endearing short film about a little girl trying to impress a boy; Makind is No Island, a film shot with a cell phone that depicts words on different signs in the streets of New York to create a narrative and Animal Beatbox is an experimental animation that plays around with the sound of animal names that create a melody.

Following the screening the two filmmakers, Ayten Amin and Mohamed Diab, talked about the challenges they had to face to get into the industry.

Perhaps coincidentally, both filmmakers worked as bankers and quit their jobs to pursue a career in cinema.

Both filmmakers agreed that it is never too late; Ayten started taking courses in cinema at the age of 27.

Diab gave some pointers in how to be a good filmmaker, emphasising that it is a must for aspiring and wannabe filmmakers to watch films all the time to stay updated with the latest productions and events in the field. He also advised the audience to read about filmmaking and to keep a notebook all the time to write down any inspiring scenes or conversations as they occur.

Amin talked about her experiences of making her, thus far, three short films. She said that as one learns more about the craft one gets more nervous while making a film, relaying that she realised much later that she made many mistakes in her first film. She added that if a filmmaker makes a film that triggers something in them (it doesn’t necessarily have to be one’s personal story), they will have a stronger vision while making the film.

Both Diab and Amin agreed that anyone can make a short film if one knows the basic principles of filmmaking and has a good idea.

The impressively large number attending the lectures testifies to the huge interest in this art sector. The advice that Diab and Amin gave, came down to common sense. However, it was very important for all the young people to realise, once again, those facts before they try to enter the field.

The deadline for submission is 22 September, 2011. The winner will participate in the international TROPFEST and be one of the jury members.

TROPFEST Arabia, which is organised by twofour54 Abu Dhabi, is an extension of the international TROFEST that takes places in Australia and is considered one of the largest short film festivals.

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