Shingle is Egypt's first post-revolution film biz move
Some of Egypt’s most exciting young filmmakers have teamed with former StudioCanal CEO Frederic Sichler to create Arab world sales company Pacha Pics.The first shingle dedicated to promoting and selling emerging talent from the Middle East, Pacha also is one of Egypt’s first important post-revolution film industry moves. Egyptian shareholders — entrepreneurs and talent — include writer-producer Mohamed Hefzy (“Microphone”), fast-rising star Khaled Abol Naga and helmer Marwan Hamed, whose 2006 “The Yacoubian Building” laid down a liberal movie milestone in modern Egypt. Other shareholders are Lebanese producer Georges Schoucair (“Stray Bullet”), documentarian Abdelasiem El Difraoui, Media Life founder Mohamed Abdel Wahab, Dubai-based producer Fadi Fahim and Egyptian TV producer Tarek Ganainy, CEO of TVision. Paris-based Pacha is chaired by Sichler, and will operate for a year as a joint venture with Gallic arthouse sales company Films Distribution. “With just a few exceptions, such as co-productions with European partners, new films from the Arab world aren’t properly promoted and distributed internationally,” Sichler said citing Egyptian Kamla Abou Zekry’s “One-Zero,” a Venice 2009 standout. Sichler visited Egypt in February and was told by soon-to-be Pacha partners that a sales company promoting Arab world films in the international market was exactly what the Middle East’s new generation needed. Pacha’s launch at Cannes comes just months after Egypt’s Jan. 25 Arab spring. Its slate includes “Tahrir Square,” a multi-part docu-diary of the Egyptian revolution from four cinestes’ POV, including “Microphone” helmer Ahmed Abdalla and Amr Salama, who directed “Today.” Germany’s ZDR and France’s Canal Plus co-finance. Hend Sabry (“Yacoubian”) plays a secretly sick single mother in Pacha-sold “Asmaa,” Salama’s next feature. In another Pacha title, “Cairo Exit,” from Egypt’s Hesham Issawi, an 18-year-old girl is forced to choose between poverty, prostitution, a soulless marriage or a boat to Italy. Lebanese director Georges Hachem’s “Stray Bullet” stars director-actress Nadine Labaki as a woman having second doubts before marriage. “Bullet” topped Dubai last year. “Here Comes the Rain” won Abu Dhabi’s Black Pearl. Portraying Alexandria’s underground art movement, “Microphone” took best Arab film at Cairo and best picture at April’s Istanbul fest. They now have a forceful sales company behind them.