Workshop at Venice Film Festival supports African films

Ahram Online, Friday 30 Aug 2013

Films from Egypt, Tunisia, Madagascar and South Africa will be screened at Venice's Final Cut Workshop on 31 August

Venice Film Festival 2013 (Photo: La Biennale di Venezia)
Venice Film Festival 2013 (Photo: La Biennale di Venezia)

Four African films have been selected by festival director Alberto Barbera to participate in a workshop organised by the Venice International Film Festival which runs from 28 August to 7 September 2013.

The films will be included in the festival’s Final Cut Workshop, which supports the post-production of promising films, and is being run for the first time this year.

The workshop is organised by the Venice Film Market and the Venice International Film Festival, in collaboration with Amiens International Film Festival and Fribourg International Film Festival.

On 31 August, the work-in-progress copies of the four projects, hailing from Egypt, Tunisia, Madagascar and South Africa, will be screened to an audience of producers, buyers, distributors and film festival programmers.

The film festival website says that: "the festival’s purpose is to provide concrete assistance in the completion of African films and to offer producers an opportunity to present films still in the production phase to international film professionals and distributors in order to facilitate post-production and promote co-production partnerships and market access.”

Prominent Egyptian director Ibrahim El-Batout's latest film ‘El-Ott’ (The Cat) is one of the projects taking part in the Venice workshop. The Cat revolves around an Egyptian who divorces his wife after their daughter is mysteriously kidnapped in Cairo. The man soon discovers that traffickers are kidnapping street children in his neighborhood.

Through his film, El-Batout seeks to shed light on society's "war of negligence and indifference against 3.5 million homeless kids in Egypt," his director's statement says.

‘Challatt Tunes’ by Tunisian Kaouther Ben Hania is another work in progress selected for the workshop. Set in the summer of 2003, the plot follows a motorcyclist dubbed "Challat" or blade, who drives around the streets of Tunisia's capital, using a razor to cut the buttocks of women walking on the sidewalks. Even though he is spoken of much more than he is actually seen, he forces women to alter their wardrobe, resorting to less revealing options. Ten years later, in the aftermath of the Tunisian revolution, a director sets out to find Challat and get to the bottom of the urban legend.  

The third film taking part in the workshop in Venice is a "lesson, made in Madagascar, about recoiling, fraternity, freedom and poetry." ‘Made in Madagascar - Avec presque rein…’ by Nantenaina Lova explores the possibilities that recycling holds in rough living conditions.

"Beyond what economists call ‘underdevelopment,’ I perceive everywhere an unconscious resistance to a barely humanistic worldwide system," says Madagascan director Lova.

The final unfinished work screening in Venice this year is South African director Sibs Shongwe-La Mer's ‘Territorial Pissings’. This experimental film captures suburban Johannesburg during “Youth Day” (16 June) by showcasing a series of intimate vignettes into the lives of young South Africans.

The four films will be competing for prizes intended to support them financially during their post-production phase. The awards will go towards funding post-production procedures such as digital colour correction, sound mixing, visual effects and special effects, among others.

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