Middle East films in Locarno mart

Projects include documentaries, features

The Locarno Film Festival is doing its own bit for cross-cultural dialogue by selecting 13 projects from the Middle East for its Open Doors co-production mart (Aug. 5-8), which focuses on cinema from countries with less-developed film industries.

The final list, culled from more than 120 submissions, includes four docus and four debut features from helmers across the region, representing Israel, Syria, Lebanon, the Palestinian territories and Egypt.

“We were struck by the diversity and power of the subject matter of the projects submitted, which covered a wide range of perspectives,” says Open Doors project manager Vincenzo Bugno.

Topics covered include the psychological toll of the various conflicts in the region, the Israeli judicial system and the lingering effects of exile.

The selected helmers — including Lebanese husband and wife team Khalil Joreige and Joana Hadjithomas, Israeli Ra’anan Alexandrowicz and master Egyptian filmmaker Daoud Abd El-Sayed — will attend a series of workshops and pitch their projects to potential financiers.

The Swiss Foreign Ministry’s Agency for Development and Cooperation will award two $40,000 grants, while France’s Centre National de la Cinematographie will support a first feature with $13,000 in development coin.

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