Digital Studio

ONWARDS AND UPWARDS

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Mohamed Hefzi holds forth on his Cannes-bowing films, upcoming series, supporting indie cinema and his plans to makeover the Cairo Film Festival.

Mohamed Hefzy remains a lode star for independen­t film makers in the region. In the 13 years since setting up his production company Film Clinic, he has produced 34 films, written seven and presented them at more than 100 film festivals. Shalaka Paradkar caught up with Hefzy, crowned Arab Cinema Centre’s Personalit­y of the Year at this year’s Cannes Film Festival

In March 2018, Mohamed Hefzy was appointed president of the Cairo Internatio­nal Film Festival by Egypt’s Minister of Culture. Helming the festival in its 40th edition, Hefzy became the youngest president of the Arab world’s oldest film festival.

This year in Cannes, Hefzy was awarded Arab Cinema Centre’s Personalit­y of the Year 2019 – a well-earned honour for the metallurgi­cal engineer-turned-screenwrit­er and producer. A prolific talent who has scripted seven and produced 34 feature films in Egypt, the US, the UK, and the Arab world, Hefzy is a well-known fixture on the festival circuit, he has taken his films to Cannes, Venice, Berlin,

Sundance, and Toronto. In 2016, Hefzy’s Clash was chosen as the opening film of the Un Certain Regard section of Cannes Internatio­nal Film Festival. In 2018, he returned to Cannes as co-producer of Yomeddine (“Judgement Day”), this time in the festival’s official competitio­n section.

Hefzy has been a long-time champion of the cause of independen­t filmmakers in Egypt and the Arab world company through his production company, Film Clinic. Digital Studio caught up with Hefzy to find out more about his plans and projects. Congratula­tions for the success of Yomeddine. You’ve said before that it has also been a financial success. What inspired your trust in a first-time director

and a cast of non-profession­al actors?

I met Dina Emam [ Yomeddine’s producer] in Cannes in 2017. She told me about the film. I had already heard about it and saw it as a first cut when we returned to Cairo. So I came on board after the film had already been shot. They wanted some support, as funds were finishing post production, and needed help with distributi­on in the Middle East, and lobbying internatio­nally for festivals. Film Clinic came on board. We financed the post production and helped with the distributi­on.

I didn’t think it was much of a risk, to be honest, as I had seen the film. It was much easier to evaluate rather than just going by the script if you are dealing with a first-time director. I got lucky here!

I am very proud of the film. I think Dina

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