Ahmed Fawzi-Saleh and Morad Mostafa are the two Egyptian directors who have been selected for mentorship and funding platforms in aid of completing works in progress as part of the Cannes Film Festival. The festival will celebrate its 75th anniversary as it opens for another successful event on May 17.
Among the 15 projects selected for L’Atelier co-production forum is Ahmed Fawzi-Saleh’s Hamlet From the Slums, and among the 10 films chosen for La Fabrique Cinema programme is Morad Mostafa’s Aisha Can’t Fly Away. The festival revealed its official selection of 49 films last week, and is yet to share the titles in Critics’ Week and Directors’ Fortnight. The line-up is far from complete, and although many of the films are European, there is visible inclusivity of the MENA region within the festival. Festival director Thierry Fremaux recently remarked that “many good films [are] coming out of Maghreb-North Africa.”
Fawzi-Saleh’s works follow a common theme of addressing minorities and the underprivileged. One such story is the director’s Hamlet From the Slums, which tells the story of a young adult named Ahmed living in the slums of Cairo, facing the threat of urban development. Mimicking William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the ghost of Ahmed’s late father demands revenge for his supposed assassination, leaving Ahmed torn between his duty and his religion, Sufism.
Produced and co-written by Ahmed Amer, who also co-wrote Feathers, the film has been in development for the past two years and had received multiple grants at El Gouna Film Festival’s CineGouna platform, the Doha Film Institute, and the Rotterdam Lab. L’Atelier provides support for emerging filmmakers by arranging meetings with film industry professionals and investing in their projects.
On the other hand, Aisha Can’t Fly Anymore is Mostafa’s first feature film, and will take another two to three years to be completed. The film tells the story of a young Somali woman who works as an elderly caretaker in Ain Shams, a Cairo suburb where many refugees from countries in Africa reside. Co-written by Muhammad Abdulqader and produced by Sawsan Yusuf, the film’s co-producers also include Mohamed Hefzy, former president of the Cairo International Film Festival. The project has received numerous grants from Rotterdam Lab, El Gouna Film Festival and the Red Sea International Film Festival.