Co-production lab focuses on Middle East

Projects from Palestinian, Israeli, Syrian and Egyptian helmers were awarded development and production coin from the Locarno Film Festival’s Open Doors co-production lab on Wednesday.

This year’s Open Doors forum was devoted to Near and Middle Eastern cinema, with 13 projects selected out of 130 submissions to participate in a workshop that took place during the 11-day fest, which wraps Saturday.

Grants of 50,000 Swiss francs ($41,880) for development and production offered by Switzerland’s Agency for Development and Cooperation went to Palestinian helmer Tawfiq Abu Wael’s “Tanathor” and Syrian helmer Meyar Al Roumi’s “Le Chemin des figuiers.”

Abu Wael’s sophomore project will be produced by Amir Harel from Israeli shingle Lama Films, while Al Roumi’s debut will be produced by Emmanuel Agneray and Jerome Bleithrach from Gallic shingle Bizibi Prods.

Gaul’s Centre National de la Cinematographie also handed out development coin worth $14,000 to Israeli helmer Ra’anan Alexandrowicz’s “Justice Must Be Seen,” while Egyptian helmer Nadine Khan will receive an all-expenses-paid two-month stay at the Moulin d’Ande writers’ residency in France.

“We can see the news about what is happening in the Middle East on a daily basis, but we deliberately wanted to avoid reducing the region’s film cultures to the cliches of a purely political interpretation of reality,” Open Doors project manager Vincenzo Bugno said.

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