In what could turn out to be a significant bridgehead between the Arab and European film industries, the first Arab Cinema Center will bow at the Berlin Film Festival’s European Film Market, comprising eleven prominent entities and production companies from the Arab world.
The EFM’s first Arab film industry umbrella group is organised by Cairo and Abu Dhabi-based MAD Solutions which has set up the platform “without relying on any types of external [government] support. Hence, the cinema center is supported only by the companies and organizations taking part,” said MAD Solutions topper Alaa Karkouti in a statement, specifying this will make it easier for the ACC to become a regular EFM fixture going forward.
Companies repped include Egypt’s Film Clinic, The Producers, Middle West Films, Crystal Dog and X-Rated; Jordan’s The Imaginarium; Crowdfunding outfit Emirati Cinema Campaign; Sweden’s Malmo Arab Film Festival, Arab Cinema in Sweden org. and MAD Solutions, which operates as a pan-Arab film distributor, besides being a promoter.
“The Arab Cinema Center at the Berlinale is the culmination of MAD’s pioneering work these five years promoting Arab films, filmmakers and filmmaking companies,” enthused Colin Brown, Managing Partner and Director of International Operations at MAD Solutions.
“We want to project a progressive image of pan-Arab co-operation and openness” added Brown, who is a former editor at Screen International.
Jane Williams, the former Director of the Dubai Film Festival’s Film Connection, is also on board as an ACC consultant.
Arab titles that will make their international market debut at EFM include Egyptian helmer Mohamed Khan’s femme empowerment drama “Factory Girl,” about a sweatshop seamstress accused of losing her virginity, hot supernatural horror pic “Warda,” and mockumentary “Kiss Me Not,” about censorship of kissing scenes in Egyptian cinema.
The ACC will publish an Arab Cinema Guide and act as a catalyst for leading companies from the Arab world and Arab filmmakers at the fest and also at the Berlinale’s Talents Platform. The Talents Platform has organised a confab on movie theaters from Beirut to Cairo as spaces for exhibiting films and bustling hubs of alternative culture. During Berlin the Robert Bosch Stiftung foundation will also award it annual prize for projects by young German and Arab filmmakers.
The 65th Berlin International Film Festival will run February 5-15.