3rd GMM Sum­mit: a hub for Egyp­tian film­mak­ers to con­nect with US ex­perts

“US has com­pletely false pre­con­ceived no­tions about Arab world; I be­lieve only way to com­bat these stereo­types is through films,” says an award win­ning film, tele­vi­sion, and dig­i­tal pro­ducer

The Daily News Egypt - - Art & Culture - By Nada Deyaa’

For young film mak­ers who dream of mak­ing a mo­tion pic­ture that meets in­ter­na­tional stan­dards and get a chance to have their film screened world­wide, the jour­ney of turn­ing their writ­ten sto­ries into the sil­ver screen is usu­ally full of ob­sta­cles which stand be­tween them and turn­ing their dream into re­al­ity. Aim­ing to fa­cil­i­tate the process of turn­ing film­mak­ers’ projects into real films, and to ex­change cul­tural knowl­edge of film­mak­ing be­tween the US and Egypt, the 3rd Global Me­dia Mak­ers (GMM) Sum­mit took place last week.

The GMM is a cul­tural ex­change pro­gramme, or­gan­ised by the Amer­i­can em­bassy in Cairo, in co­op­er­a­tion with Film In­de­pen­dent, a US-based NGO which cham­pi­ons in­de­pen­dent film­mak­ers and sup­ports them to for­mu­late and re­alise their sto­ries.The ini­tia­tive cel­e­brated its third edi­tion this year with a sum­mit which con­nected Egyp­tian film­mak­ers with some of their peers and men­tors from the US.

The pro­gramme,es­tab­lished in 2016, helps young film­mak­ers to im­prove upon their sto­ries with a six-week in­ten­sive train­ing ses­sion in Los An­ge­les, in order to de­velop their projects un­der the men­tor­ship of lead­ing US film in­dus­try rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

The sum­mit wit­nessed the par­tic­i­pa­tion of 23 film­mak­ers, along­side six US ex­perts and men­tors from the film in­dus­try, in order to dis­cuss means by which both sides could con­tinue to work on the pro­gramme. Among the Egyp­tian pre­pared films in the past years, was Amr Salama’s film Sheikh Jack­son, which was Egypt’s se­lec­tion in the Cannes awards in 2017.

“I be­lieve that Egyp­tian film­mak­ers do not miss any sto­ry­telling tal­ents. From what I have seen in the film­mak­ers com­ing to the pro­gramme, most of them need to learn how to pack­age their sto­ries and their de­liver their voice to the world,” Maria Raquel Bozzi, the se­nior di­rec­tor of Ed­u­ca­tion and In­ter­na­tional Ini­tia­tives at Film In­de­pen­dent told Daily News Egypt.

Bozzi, who has worked with 12 Egyp­tian film­mak­ers so far, be­lieves that most of them want to tell sto­ries that are rather loyal to where they come from, yet they lack the ex­pe­ri­ence of how to trans­late them so they can at­tract a larger au­di­ence to their projects.

Bozzi was one of the men­tors who helped Amr Salama while work­ing on his film, by pro­vid­ing him with ideas and ways to in­tensely dis­cuss the plot.

She ex­pressed that most of the projects she saw and worked on re­count sto­ries of the strug­gles Egyp­tian live and “the love-hate re­la­tion­ship they have to­wards Cairo as a city.”

“Now that I am here, I can per­son­ally un­der­stand and re­late to what I have been read­ing all the time.This is a fas­ci­nat­ing city, there’s a lot of chaos and a lot of his­tory and trea­sures as well, so there’s al­ways that el­e­ment in most of the ap­plied projects,” she ex­plained.

Effie Brown, an award win­ning film, tele­vi­sion, and dig­i­tal pro­ducer, is one of the par­tic­i­pat­ing men­tors at the sum­mit,said that the main el­e­ment Egyp­tian film­mak­ers bring to the US is a great un­der­stand­ing as well as a cul­tural bridge.

“The US has pre­con­ceived no­tions about the Arab world which are com­pletely false, and I be­lieve the only way to com­bat these stereo­types is through films. And Egyp­tian film­mak­ers al­ways bring these el­e­ments that we all can re­late to as hu­man be­ings,” she said.

Strug­gling to pur­chaseF their rights as a main theme of many film ideas, Brown added that af­ter ev­ery film she reads, she is deeply con­vinced that all hu­man be­ings are the same, re­gard­less of where they come from.

“As a Black Amer­i­can fe­male, I can truly say that many of our real prob­lems are not told or men­tioned in films.A lot of the films that are be­ing show­ing in the US are about the dom­i­nant whom are white men.So,we also strug­gle to voice out such prob­lems,” she added

In the press re­lease pub­lished by the em­bassy, Ruth Anne Stevens-Klitz, the cul­tural at­taché at the US em­bassy in Cairo said that the “con­nec­tion be­tween the Egyp­tian and US film in­dus­try is twofold; first in the wide­spread dis­tri­bu­tion of Amer­i­can films within Egypt, and se­cond with the men­tor­ing and cul­tural ex­change op­por­tu­ni­ties of­fered by pro­grammes like GMM.”

“We are thrilled to cel­e­brate the im­pact of this pro­gramme for Egyp­tians and other film­mak­ers in the re­gion,” she con­tin­ued.

Film In­de­pen­dent of­fers film­mak­ers’ ed­u­ca­tion and devel­op­ment pro­grammes that help them im­prove their work, as well as op­por­tu­ni­ties to build a work that meets au­di­ence needs. Over the past years, Film In­de­pen­dent has helped 46 film­mak­ers from nine re­gional coun­tries through the GMM.

Bozzi stressed that she had found a sense of ur­gency in Mid­dle East­ern film­mak­ers,which she could not feel or find else­where.

“Ur­gency means the work starts get­ting pow­er­ful, driven by the urge that you [viewer] need to hear this story, and you can­not but pay at­ten­tion to it, which is some­thing I find great,and very en­gag­ing to the fi­nal pro­duced film,” she ex­plained.

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