Egyptian event incubates Arab talent
ROMEEgyptian producer and scribe Mohamed Hefzy has been appointed artistic director of Egypt’s Ismailia Film Festival, a key incubator for global new talent and cutting-edge Arab cinema. Hefzy, whose Cairo-based Film Clinic produced several groundbreaking pics from the region, such as Ahmed Abdalla’s “Microphone,” which anticipated the Arab Spring, is planning to start a market at Ismailia, which is dedicated primarily to documentaries and shorts. Among Film Clinic’s more recent pics is Sally El Hosaini’s 2012 Sundance prizewinner “My Brother the Devil.” The Ismailia fest, located in one of Egypt’s most beautiful cities, on the west bank of the Suez Canal, also showcases experimental and animation pics in different formats. Event is financed by the Egyptian Film Center, headed by cinematographer and documaker Kamal Abdel Aziz, who is also a board member of other government film entities. Hefzy boycotted the government-backed Cairo Film Festival, which took place in December amid demonstrations against Islamist president Mohamed Morsi. His appointment as topper of Ismailia signals that he now sees an opportunity for fostering cinematic renewal within the country’s complex political changes. The fest’s team and dates will be announced in coming weeks. Film Clinic, which was at the recent Berlinale Co-production mart, grants an annual $10,000 development prize during the Dubai fest and mart.