D-CAF's Mobile Film Workshop goes from Alexandria to Assiut

Rowan El Shimi, Saturday 15 Feb 2014

The annual Mobile Film Workshop affiliated with Cairo's Downtown Contemporary Arts Festival finishes the first round of workshops in Alexandria; next up Assiut, Minya and Cairo

D-CAF Mobile Workshop
Mobile Film Workshop in Alexandria (Photo: Courtesy of Gudran for Art and Development)

Committed to developing the Egyptian art scene, the Downtown Contemporary Arts Festival (D-CAF) this year expands its annual Mobile Film Workshop to Alexandria, Assiut and Minya in addition to its Cairo workshop.

The workshop in Assiut is set to start on Sunday, 16 February, followed by Minya and ending with the Cairo edition before D-CAF kicks off 20 March.

During D-CAF, the Smart Mobile Film Festival will take place. The festival is open to mobile produced films from all over the world with an official competition that is open to both workshop students and any other applicants. The festival will have an official competition and thematic competition, the theme of the latter yet to be announced.

There will be various film screenings during the festival in Downtown Cairo, as well as other cities where the workshops will take place.

"In the last years, the workshop only took place in Cairo and next year we hope to expand it to even more spaces," Mohamed Abdel-Fattah (known as Kalabala), the workshops' main coordinator, asserts.

The workshops are geared towards taking the participants through the process of creating a film, from coming up with an idea in the pre-production stage, developing the concept, story and shooting plan, and shooting the film itself. Finally students get a chance to edit their films with the support of trainers and have a final product by the end.

"The workshop is really about using the resources you have to make a high quality, low budget film. The mobile phone is one of these resources," Khaled Kellah, the main instructor of the Smart Mobile Film Workshop, tells Ahram Online.

During the process of production, sessions aiming to enhance the participants skills are added, in addition to them learning during the production process. At the end of the workshop, Kellah also gives students links to websites and forums so they can continue their independent studies of filmmaking.

The Alexandria edition

The 10-day workshop wrapped up in Alexandria on 8 February with five students who produced 11 films during the course of the workshop.

In Alexandria, the workshop was hosted in 'Wekalet Behna,' a new art space in the seaside city which had a soft opening in 2013, awaiting its official opening in March.

The space, run by Gudran for Arts and Development, is a historic 12-room apartment that was once the offices of Behna Films, Egypt's main cinema distributors between the 1930s and 1950s. The heir of the apartment and company, Basile Behna, is partnering with Gudran to turn the space in Mansheya into a space for visual arts and independent cinema, as well as a showcase for the company's archives.

"The space itself was mesmerising and really connected to the workshop," Kellah says. "Many films that were produced during the workshop used the space for inspiration for their stories, and the students even want to collaboratively work on a documentary about the space and its neighbourhood."

According to Peter Adel, one of the workshop participants, who is an engineering student, the fact that the workshop focused on the conceptual development within making a film, rather than the technicalities, was especially useful.

For Adel, the workshop was an opportunity for him to move from his freelance editing posts to actually creating a film from scratch, which he did twice.

Adel produced two films during the workshop: one about addiction to online social networking, and the other on conversations that people often find themselves in where everyone focused on their opinion and neither party really listens to what the other has to say.

Those interested can catch screenings of some of the films from the workshops during the course of D-CAF between 20 March and 11 April.

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