'Good News' for Belgian cinema
Picturenose's James Drew reports on an important cultural agreement between Egyptian media and entertainment company Good News Group and Brussels International Independent Film Festival.
Egyptian film producer and director Adel Adeeb has put €3 million in the coffers for an intriguing collaboration between Belgian and Egyptian cinema, to finance 50 per cent of two feature films.
Under the auspices of the 36th edition of the Brussels International Independent Film Festival, which was held in Brussels' Jacques Franck Cultural Centre from 3-8 November, and which focused on Egyptian cinema, the renowned producer/director of films such as Laylat El-Baby Doll (2008) (producer/director), Halim (2006) (supervising producer) and Hysteria (1996) (director) held a round table on the festival's final day, to announce the signing of an important agreement between Adeeb's Good News Group and the festival organizers to produce two full-length feature films, with €1.5 million to be provided for each.
One of the films will be made in Egypt, the other in Belgium, using the native film talent of both countries. As Adeeb explained: "This is hopefully the starting point for voluntary, proactive collaboration which will hopefully become permanent and will extend to other film festivals in Europe.
"The idea behind the agreement with the festival is to ensure that we find a director, screenplay writer, distributor and of course actors on both sides of the partnership. Our absolute priority is to ensure that the films in question will express the cinema of today, and help young directors who are looking for backing, seek out the stars of tomorrow and open up film distribution between the two countries. Thus, it will be a very encouraging initiative in the current audiovisual landscape, which appears at present to be lacking in finance and daring."
Belgium is the first EU country to embark on such an initiative, which is set to be realized during 2010 – organizers hope that other member states such as France and Italy will quickly follow suit.
The festival also paid tribute to internationally renowned Egyptian actress and singer Yosra, who received a Lifetime Achievement in Film Award for her work, which stretches back as far as 1980 and includes appearances in more than 90 films, including Marwan Hamed's much-acclaimed Omaret yakobean (Yacoubian Building) (2006), which has been screened in 38 countries worldwide. Yosra, who is also a UNDP Ambassador, and has previously won more than 50 awards for her films, spoke of her "absolute delight" at receiving the award, and thanked "the beautiful city of Brussels" for the honour.
The Brussels International Independent Film Festival, or le Festival International du Film Indépendant de Bruxelles, has been held since 1974. It originally focused on Super 8mm films and is now an annual showcase for a wide range of independent cinema.
Festival website link