26 Nov IEFTA Finds Newest GFE Talents in El Gouna
For a 5th consecutive year, IEFTA partnered with El Gouna’s CineGouna Springboard Platform to identify and develop filmmakers in the Middle East & North African region. At the 2021 Festival in October, two projects and their inspired filmmakers earned IEFTA’s Global Film Expression Initiative Awards at the concluding ceremony.
With a select group of IEFTA’s team in attendance, our El Gouna experience was characteristically exciting, emotional and energising —all the more so for real life, in-person connections. We met with and talked to dozens of filmmakers from this huge, diverse and dynamic region, hearing formal pitches from so many individuals and creative teams. As ever, deciding among quality projects was the challenge, but Global Film Expression Initiative Prizes went to the makers of a feature and a documentary. Meet the filmmakers and learn about their projects below.
Aisha Cannot Fly Away Anymore
Overview: Aisha, a 29 years old Somali carer, works with elderly Egyptian patients and lives in the historic Ain-Shams neighborhood at the heart of Cairo. These days, Aisha is at an impasse: work is demanding and dreary; her relationship with an Egyptian cook is loveless; and her neighborhood, home to the African immigrant diaspora, is tense and divided. And, as the title suggests, flight is no longer an option.
Morad Mostafa (Egypt)
Morad is an Egyptian Filmmaker, born in Cairo. After Study at Cinema Palace, he began his work in the industry, assistant directing several independent films, before stepping into the executive director role for “Souad,” a feature that became an official selection of the Cannes Film Festival 2020 as well as the Berlinale. He is the writer and director of two short films “Henet Ward” and “What we don’t know about Mariam,” both of which premiered at Clermont-Ferrand and made the official selection of other distinguished festivals (BFI London – Palm Springs – Busan – Thessaloniki – Stockholm – Karlovy Vary – FIFF Namur – Cinemed Montpellier – Shanghai – Durban – Buenos Aires – EL Gouna – JCC Carthage – Cairo), winning awards and accolades along the way.
Sawsan Yusuf is an Egyptian producer. Born in 1988, She earned a degree in Drama & Criticism from the Ain-Shams University. Starting as a film festival coordinator, she was soon booking work as an assistant producer/ line producer on independent projects.
In 2019, Sawsun established Bonanza Films, where, in collaboration with director Morad Mostafa, she produced the short film “Henet Ward.” That film premiered at the Clermont-Ferrand International Film Festival in 2020 and has since been selected by more than 150 festivals, winning 30 prizes.
Women of My Life
Overview: In this intimate documentary, Zahraa Ghandour confronts the pervasive violence against and devaluation of women in her country. Armed with camera, questions and interview skills, Zahraa looks into the past in order to imagine a different future. Spurred by her own experience of shame, confusion and terror, she mines the dark reality of women’s lives in Baghdad for the light of understanding.
Women of My Life operates as a diary, a conversation and a confrontation. With past as prologue, the more Zahraa looks inward, the more she sees around her.
Driven to protect women from gender-based violence, Zahraa’s winding, circling examination of her experience and trauma and that of the Women in her Life has no tidy resolution. But this atmospheric, mesmerizing journey creates awareness, builds alliance and inspires the action and advocacy required for a better future.
Zahraa Ghandour (Iraq)
Zahraa is a filmmaker, actor and women’s rights activist based in Baghdad. Inspired by her work as a writer, TV presenter and director of a weekly social documentary series, she began directing and producing projects for UNDP, Al Araby TV, BBC Arabic and Breakthrough Media Productions, as well as for herself.
Thanks to her visibility and presence, she was asked to act, and quickly began winning international awards. Her break out roles include the lead in the feature “Baghdad in My Shadow” and supporting work in “Baghdad Central“, a series for Channel 4.
Today, Zahraa works as TV producer, writer and presenter at the Iraqi channel UTV, where she developed the weekly series “Small Communities”, in which social issues are addressed from the perspective of Iraqi youth.