Monday, 28 March 2011

Award Winners

The festival concluded this past Saturday with its Award Ceremony. Four awards were given in the categories of Audience Award, Neighboring Nations, Egypt Rising, and Streaming the Revolution. Despite the curfew and continued protests, many people attended the festival and we had a diversity of visions represented in the submissions.

Degrees of Incarceration (2010, 59m, Palestine) by Amalh Bishara & Nidal Al-Azraq won the Audience Award. Not only did this film earn the highest rating among the audience ballots, but it commanded the largest audience affirming the continued poignancy and concern around the Palestinian issue.

Coffee Futures (2009, 22m, Turkey) by Zeynep Devrim Gürsel won the Neighboring Nations Award for the way it creatively combined the poetics of traditional fortune telling with an incisive critique of east/west geopolitics.

Mafrouza (2007-2010, 5-parts, 741m) by Emmanuelle Demoris won the Egypt Rising Award. This 12-hour series lingers with residents of an informal neighborhood built up within the necropolis of Alexandria. The Mafrouza project impressed the jury for its sustained patience and commitment to one localized context and central group of people. Not only does the film series honor the genuineness of the documentary subjects, but it shows the challenges of filming impoverished areas in Egypt. People on screen reveal their suspicions and expressed accussations about focusing on poverty. But this is not the theme of the film despite its unavoidable presence. Instead, Demoris' sincerity and humility endears both the film's subjects and the audience in the end. More than any film in the festival, Mafrouza conveys the relationship between filmmaker and film subject. Demoris' camera becomes another character, providing us with an intimate engagement with the people who shared this documentary experience with her. We as viewers become acquainted with the residents of the Mafrouza neighborhood and the patient lingering allows the pace of life to dictate the pace of the film rather than imposing an estranged editing regime on the lifeworld of these people. Speaking of the digital speed of our Streaming the Revolution program, film critic Gabe Klinger called Mafrouza a “slow digital film” by necessity. Indeed, Mafrouza is a rare filmic experience that shows the great potential of observational cinema that asks audiences to release one's cinematic expectations to the rhythms of another's everyday lived experience.
  • MAFROUZA-OH NIGHT! (Mafrouza 1 - 138' – 2007) From a first archeological visit to the discovery of the present life in the neighbourhood.
  • MAFROUZA/HEART (Mafrouza 2 - 154' – 2007-2010) Getting closer to people touches the heart and changes the film tonality.
  • WHAT IS TO BE DONE? (Mafrouza 3 - 152' – 2010) A mild summer in the neighbourhood.
  • THE HAND OF THE BUTTERFLY ((Mafrouza 4 - 142' - 2010) Birth of a baby and engagement of a young girl : the cycle of life.
  • THE ART OF SPEAKING (Mafrouza 5 - 155' - 2010) ( Léopard d'Or Cinéastes du Présent du Festival de Locarno) Who will do the Friday preach in the mosque?
CDF screened the first part, On night! Additional screenings will be held over the next two-weeks in Cairo and Alexandria.

Intifadat Intifadat, a collective of filmmakers, won the Streaming the Revolution Award for three videos they submitted. These videos showed an incredible sensitivity with the camera. More than merely scenes of protest, the videos convey a sense of raw emotion. The carnivalesque aesthetics show sophistication with both content and form. These videos demonstrate acute skills in depth of field, composition of shots, and creative editing. The prize was accepted by Jasminah Metwaly. These can be viewed from our website or from their local vimeo address:

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Lectures by Dr. Hamid Naficy

The Cairo Documentary Festival & the Department of English and Comparative Literature
Invite You to Two Lectures by Dr. Hamid Naficy, Professor of Radio-Television-Film and the Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani Professor in Communication at Northwestern University

“Internet Cinema—Iran” Keynote lecture at the Cairo Documentary Festival
Saturday, March 26, 2011 3pm, Ewart Hall, Tahrir Campus

“The Evolving Politics and Poetics of the Veil in Iranian Cinema”
Sunday, March 27, 2011 1pm, Mary Cross Hall, New Cairo Campus

Next Year in Bombay re-screening

Due to the unfortunate mishaps with Next Year in Bombay on Tuesday's program, we will re-screen the film today (Thursday) at 2pm in Ewart Hall. This film has been nominated for the Audience Award, so please come and cast your ballot.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Welcome to the Cairo Documentary Festival - Focus on Egypt and the Middle East!

Now in our third year, the American University in Cairo will host a documentary film festival between March 20-26, 2011 at it's Tahrir Square and New Cairo Campuses. Organized by the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, Psychology, and Egyptology, earlier editions of the festival featured ethnographic films and social documentaries from around the world. 

The Tahrir campus will host two programs – Egypt Rising, featuring numerous Egyptian documentaries and critical discussions, and Neighboring Nations, featuring films from Turkey, Palestine, Iran, and beyond.

EGYPT RISING: Featuring films that address contemporary cultural movements and social sentiments across the Egyptian landscape. Beginning on March 20, Egypt Rising 1: Dawning Faces hosts three feature-length documentaries by up and coming filmmakers: Stories of al Fagallah, Garbage Dreams, and Beit Sha'ar- Nomads Home. On March 24, we will host the Egypt Rising 2: Documentary Rising program with a series of nine short videos that paint a picture of Egyptians poised for change, ready to throw off the heavy legacies of the past. We see people demanding their rights to hope and engage in civic purpose. Following an Egypt Rising Reception, the Egypt Rising 3: Remembering Tahrir Square will feature Tahani Rached's Neighbors (Giran).

Saturday, March 26, includes a panel discussion, Egypt Rising 4: Documenting in Revolutionary Times, among filmmakers, scholars, and activists about the intersection of social justice, new technology, and the politics of aesthetics. The panel will explore ways that contemporary documentary efforts can address the current state of social unrest in Egypt and across the region. In an effort to capture the present moment of Egypt Rising, our Egypt Rising 5: Streaming the Revolution program includes a series of short, internet-based videos about the events around the January 25th Revolution. After the closing ceremony, the Egypt Rising 6: Expanding the Horizon program features the first part of the 12-hour Mafrouza series by Emmanuelle Demoris. The rest of the series will be featured at other venues in Cairo and Alexandria after the Cairo Documentary Festival.

NEIGHBORING NATIONS: Dispensing with typical geo-political terminology to describe the region, while giving attention to documentaries near to the Egyptian experience. Neighboring Nations 1: Memories and Premonitions, on March 21, features several films reflective of the Turkish experience in Anatolia and beyond.

March 22 features two programs. Neighboring Nations 2: Unexpected Stories offers an eclectic combination of experimental travel films, an expose on Islamic fashions in New York, and an intimate look at the demise of the Jewish community in India. This is followed by the Neighboring Nations 3: State of Imprisonment program that focuses on the oppressive situation facing Palestinians. Degrees of Incarceration meditates on the widespread experience among West Bank men in Israeli prisons, while both Ticket From Azrael and Of Flesh and Blood focus on the situation in Gaza.

On March 24 we return for the the Neighboring Nations 4: Cultural Industry in Sudan with a look at traditional architectural design in Inscriptions on Rosewater and then diffusionist innovation in Sifinja – The Iron Bride. The program closes with Neighboring Nations 5: Iranian Body Politic, featuring a keynote address by renowned film scholar, Dr. Hamid Naficy, and two recent films about Iranian political consciousness. Plastic Flowers Never Die examines the commemoration of the Iranian martyrs and the social climate that sent millions to their deaths, while Iran: Voices of the Unheard presents a diverse set of contemporary views.

Five films have been Nominated for the Audience Award and will be featured on the New Campus Program. These include Sifinja – The Iron Bride (Sudan), Next Year in Bombay (India), Beit Sha'ar- Nomads Home (Egypt), Degrees of Incarceration (Palestine), and Iran: Voices of the Unheard (Iran).