×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Arab Genre Films Get Boost From Beirut’s Maskoon Lab (EXCLUSIVE)

Just as Netflix tries to gain traction in the Middle East by backing local genre series, such as its first Arab original, “Jinn,” from Jordan, and Egypt’s upcoming “Paranormal,” Beirut’s Maskoon Fantastic Film Festival is launching the region’s first platform dedicated to genre films.

Five Arabic-language projects, ranging from a zombie comedy to a supernatural female-empowerment drama, have been selected for the Maskoon Fantastic Lab’s pilot edition, which is set for Nov. 7-8 in Beirut’s Lebanese Academy of Fine Arts. All the projects have a strong sociopolitical subtext, organizers say.

“Arab producers and film festivals haven’t really embraced genre cinema yet,” said Myriam Sassine, the fest’s chief exec. “So we felt the need for a platform to encourage and help those filmmakers who would like to venture into genre”

The fest’s artistic director, Antoine Waked, underlined that, at a time when genre movies are making their way into festivals around the world, such as recent Venice Golden Lion winner “Joker,” genre storytelling can “inject new blood” into Middle Eastern filmmaking and help a new generation of directors to emerge.

The five projects chosen for the Maskoon lab include zombie comedy “Zayn,” by Lebanon’s Wissam Charaf (“Fallen From the Sky”), and “Plum Season,” a supernatural female-empowerment drama from Morocco’s Rim Mejdi. The other three projects are psychological thriller “Occurrences,” by Lebanon’s Nizar Sfair; “North,” by fellow Lebanese Selim Mourad (“This Little Father Obsession”); and dystopian drama “You Are in Trouble as We Laugh,” by Egypt’s Khaled Madhat Moeit (pictured).

These projects will be mentored, and also judged, by a panel of experts comprising Swiss producer Annick Mahnert, who produced Laotian director Mattie Do’s “The Long Walk”; French VFX wizard Sebastien Rame (“Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets”); Jordanian director Rania Attieh (“Initials S.G.,” “Two Sentence Horror Stories”); veteran Lebanese producer Georges Schoucair; and Lindsay Peters, who heads the Montreal-based genre co-production market Frontieres.

They will pick which project gets to participate in Frontieres, where a select number of works in development are presented to a large group of prominent industry professionals.

The Maskoon Film Festival, which was launched in 2016, is the only genre film festival in the Middle East. It has forged close ties to other prominent international genre events such as Sitges, Fantastic Fest Austin, and the Fantasia festival in Montreal.

The 4th edition of Maskoon will run Nov. 6-10.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Bouli Lanners Teams With 'Peaky Blinders'

    Bouli Lanners Teams With 'Peaky Blinders' Director Tim Mielants on 'Wise Blood'

    Bouli Lanners, the Belgian actor-director of “The Giants” and “Eldorado,” is teaming with “Peaky Blinders” helmer Tim Mielants to direct “Wise Blood,” an English-language film that will star “Game of Thrones” actor Michelle Fairley and Julian Glover. “Wise Blood” is a Belgian-Scottish-French co-production between Versus Production, Barry Crerar, and Playtime, which will handle international sales [...]

  • Bombshell Charlize Theron Megyn Kelly

    'Bombshell': Why Charlize Theron Was Terrified of Playing Megyn Kelly

    Charlize Theron is getting some of the best buzz of her career for channeling Megyn Kelly in “Bombshell,” but the Oscar-winning actress admits she almost turned down the role. “I was shit scared,” Theron said during a question-and-answer session following a Manhattan screening of “Bombshell” on Sunday. Partly, she was worried about portraying someone who [...]

  • Sean Hayes and Todd Milliner's Hazy

    Sean Hayes and Todd Milliner's Hazy Mills to Co-Produce SAG Awards

    Sean Hayes and Todd Milliner’s Hazy Mills Productions have joined the SAG Awards producing team. The guild announced this morning that Kathy Connell will once again serve as the show’s producer along with Hayes and Milliner in partnership with Avalon Harbor. “Attending the SAG Awards has always been a pleasure and a privilege for me,” [...]

  • Maleficent Mistress of Evil

    Box Office: Why 'Maleficent: Mistress of Evil' Fizzled

    Despite nabbing first place at the domestic box office, Disney’s “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” debuted significantly below expectations and demonstrated that even the most powerful studio in Hollywood is susceptible to missteps. The follow-up to 2014’s “Maleficent” kicked off in North America with a lackluster $36 million bow, an underwhelming result for a film that [...]

  • Gavel Court Placeholder

    Netflix Movie Scammer Admits to Defrauding Investors Out of $14 Million

    A California man has admitted to defrauding investment groups — nabbing $14 million — by falsely claiming the money would be used to produce a feature film for Netflix. On Oct. 18, Adam Joiner, 41, of Manhattan Beach, Calif., pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud in U.S. District Court, according to federal authorities. [...]

  • Tio-Yim

    Morelia Film Festival Highlights Mexican Indigenous Women Filmmakers

    This year’s Morelia Intl. Film Festival (FICM), with support from a FilmWatch scholarship awarded by the U.S. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, will host a Mexican Indigenous Filmmakers: Identity and New Narratives forum for women directors. Issues such as diversity, identity, gender equity, inclusion and broader topics such as the challenges of film [...]

  • lighthouse

    Festival Winners, Oscar Hopefuls Vie for BIFA International Award (EXCLUSIVE)

    The long list for the coveted best international picture prize at the British Independent Film Awards includes Cannes Palme d’Or and London Film Festival winners, as well as pictures from Pedro Almodovar, Robert Eggers and Noah Baumbach. Multiple titles that have been submitted to compete for the Oscar for best international feature film are also [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content