Three Egyptian filmmakers selected for Berlinale Talents 2023

Ahram Online , Thursday 22 Dec 2022

Adolf El-Assal, Sameh Alaa and Kesmat El-sayed were chosen to participate in the Berlinale development programme during the festival’s 2023 edition.



The three Egyptian filmmakers are among 204 cinema industry professionals selected for the Talents’ upcoming edition. They were selected from among 3295 applications from 125 countries. Fifty five percent of the selected talents are women and 45 percent are men.

Egyptian producer, director and screenwriter Adolf El-Assal joined the Berlinale Talents with his new feature film project Hooped. The comedy film follows the schemes of the 17-year-old aspiring entrepreneur and basketball whiz Adam, which take him on a coming-of-age odyssey from Luxembourg to Canada to Egypt, burning bridges wherever he goes.

Born in Alexandria, El-Assal grew up in Dubai, London and Luxembourg. After graduating with a master's degree in Filmmaking from Kingston University in the United Kingdom, he worked as a producer on Divizionz (2008) which premiered at the Berlin Film Festival and went on to be selected at over 100 festivals. 

He has since directed a couple of short films, including the award-winning La Fameuse Route... (2011),  Mano de Dios (2011), and The Notorious Guys (2014). His latest feature Sawah (2019) was among the selections at more than 100 film festivals and has reaped 34 awards.

Living between Brussels and Cairo, the director and cinematographer Sameh Alaa presents his new short animated fiction project titled The Day I Smoked a Cigarette with My Father. The 20-mins project participates in the Short Form Station 2023 at Berlinale.

Alaa studied basic filmmaking techniques for two years at the Academy of Cinema Arts and Technology. He  worked on various commercials and feature films before moving to Europe. He received his master's degree at EICAR Film School in Paris. In 2017, he won the European Short Film Pitch for his upcoming film set in Egypt.  

His 2020 short I Am Afraid to Forget Your Face brought him a number of awards, including Palme d'Or for Best Short Film at Cannes Film Festival (2020); Best Arab Film in Short Film Competition at El-Gouna Film Festival (2020); as well as three other wins and 22 nominations.

Egyptian producer Kesmat El-sayed joined the Talents under the German filmmakers section. “I am an Egyptian producer currently based in Berlin with a focus on creative documentaries from the Arab and African region by artists from the region,” the Berlinale Talents website quotes El-sayed.

Also a co-founder of Seera Films, an independent production company which she launched at the Berlinale 2012, El-sayed focuses on production of creative feature documentaries and narrative films that have social relevance and are artistically crafted to transcend national and cultural boundaries. 

Berlinale Talents is a talent development programme that explores the how and why of movie making. Since 2003, it has grown to become a one-of-a-kind forum for film professionals and cinema lovers alike, featuring public talks, discipline-specific workshops, project development Labs and networking events with more than 9,000 alumni from 150+ countries.

In the past two decades, a total of 110 Egyptian talents participated in the programme, including directors Abdel-Salam Moussa, Noura A. Rahman, Ahmed Nabil, Reem Morsi, Mohamed Samir, Morad Mostafa, Hisham Saqr, Mayye Zayed, screenwriters M. Siam, Eman El-Naggar, film critics and journalists Mohamed Tarek, Adham Youssef, and many others.

The upcoming edition of the Berlin International Film Festival is scheduled to take place between 16 and 26 February 2023.

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