Dispatches from the Region

Disney+ announces first air date, El Gouna calls for submissions to their CineGouna platform, some Cairo Film Fest management news and a new allegiance formed.
Dispatches from the Region

Disney+ MENA news

Disney+ finally announced the launch dates for its MENA debut. In the UAE and surrounding Gulf countries it is confirmed the streaming service will launch on the 8th of June, while some other MENA territories might have to wait until the following week, with a first air date on the 14th of June.

Countries include Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Israel (where they will launch on the 16th), Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Turkey, the UAE and Yemen.

Their press release said: “Users will have access to high-quality viewing, up to four concurrent streams, unlimited downloads on up to 10 devices, Imax Enhanced for selected titles (where available) and the ability to set up to seven different profiles, including the ability for parents to set Kids Profiles that have an easy-to-navigate child-friendly interface to access age-appropriate content."

Prices will be competitive with other streaming services in the Region, with as an example, the subscription in Lebanon costing USD, at $4.49 per month, or $43.99 annually, and in the UAE Dh. 29.99 or Dh298.99 for an annual subscription. For Egypt, the service will be priced at Egyptian pounds 49.99 a month and Egyptian pounds 498.99 per year and in KSA it will cost riyals 29.99 a month and riyals 298.99 a year.

The package will include all the Disney brands like Disney itself, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and National Geographic.

El Gouna calls for CineGouna submissions

El Gouna Film Festival (GFF) is pleased  to announce the Call for Entries for the 6th edition of CineGouna Platform, which is scheduled to take place October 15-21, 2022 in the resort town of El Gouna. The deadline for receipt of submissions is July 15, 2022 for projects in development and August 1, 2022 for films in post-production. Entry form and complete information regarding eligibility for submission can be found on the festival’s website:

Festival Director Intishal Al Timimi said: “Our mission since the inaugural edition of CineGouna Platform has been to provide participants with support and mentorship from experienced industry professionals, as well as financial funds through our partners and sponsors. We are proud that the majority of our CGP alumni gain international recognition, year after year. Our goal remains to secure the best possible resources for the participating Arab filmmakers in terms of productions opportunities and international exposure.”

During its 5th edition, CineGouna Platform selected 12 projects in development and 6 films in post-production on the basis of their content, artistic vision, and overall financial feasibility. These projects presented by GFF along with  its partners and sponsors, were eligible for various awards totaling US $300,000.

The CineGouna SpringBoard jury included Lebanese producer and film critic Mohamed Soueid, former CEO of the NFDC Nina Lath Gupta, and Moroccan director and screenwriter Ismaël Ferroukhi.

Since its inception; several CineGouna Platform alumni have made their mark regionally and internationally by winning acclaim and awards at  prestigious international film festivals. Abu Bakr Shawky’s Yomeddine was selected to compete for the Palme d'Or at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, and won the François Chalais Prize. Ayten Amin's Souad was selected at the 2020 Cannes Film Festival, The Day I Lost My Shadow by Soudade Kaadan won the Lion of the Future at the Venice Film Festival in 2018 and Ali El Arabi’s Captains of Zaatari had its world premiere at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival.

This year, director Ahmed Fawzi-Saleh’s Hamlet from the Slums and Ali Al-Fatlawi’s The Blind Ferryman - Al Baseer were selected among 16 projects for the 2022 L’Atelier Co-production Forum during the 75th Cannes  Film Festival. In addition, Morad Mostafa’s Aisha Can’t Fly Away Anymore was selected among seven feature fiction film projects to participate in the pitching sessions of the co-production forum, Dot.on.the.Map Meeting Point during the 20th Cyprus Film Days International Festival. The film was also selected for the Red Sea Lodge mentoring program in collaboration with the Torino Film Lab.

The 6th edition of GFF is scheduled to take place from October 13 to 22, 2022 in the resort town of El Gouna.

Saudi producer Mohammed Al Turki joins Mad Solutions

Red Sea International Film Festival chairman Mohammed Al Turki has joined Mad Celebrity, the star management arm of production, distribution, marketing and representation one-stop-shop Mad Solutions. Mad Solution was founded by Alaa Karkouti in 2010 and he is the company Managing Partner. Mad Solutions now has offices in Cairo, Egypt and Abu Dhabi, UAE.

The blurb on their Instagram post gives Al Turki's bio as follows: "Born in Saudi Arabia, Mohammed Al Turki has successfully bridged the entertainment gap between "East and West" through his exciting Hollywood endeavors. In addition to his reputation in the film industry, Mohammed has become an influential figure in the fashion industry, working with well-known luxury brands and participating in major fashion shows. His lifelong passion for film, combined with his academic achievements in media studies while studying in London, inspired Mohammed's determination to break into the U.S. film industry as a producer, succeeding with a range of motion pictures including Golden Globe nominations for 99 Homes and Arbitrage."

Amir Ramses is appointed Director of the Cairo International Film Festival

After the sudden departure of producer and writer Mohamed Hefzy, announced earlier this month, the Egyptian legend Hussein Fahmy, President of the Cairo International Film Festival has announced the appointment of Egyptian filmmaker Amir Ramses as the Director of the festival’s 44th edition.

Amir Ramses is an Egyptian director, who graduated from the Higher Institute of Cinema in 2000. He initially worked as an assistant director with international Egyptian helmer Youssef Chahine. Ramses own documentary titled Jews of Egypt participated in the Palm Springs Film Festivals, the Montreal International Film Festival and Hamburg Film Festival among others. His feature Cairo Time was the opening film of the Arabian Nights Program and participated in the 2014 Dubai International Film Festival. Most recently, Ramses was the artistic director of El Gouna Film Festival for its first five editions and left abruptly mid-fest at the last edition, without any explanation. He just wrapped shooting his series Colours of the Sea starring Khaled El Nabawi and actress Aisha Ben Ahmed, which is scheduled to air soon.

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