For their 5th year, El Gouna Film Festival (GFF) continues to build on collaborations and partnerships with key industry players with the goal to empower and support Arab filmmakers and cinema in the region and internationally. This year, GFF is happy to partner with Filmlab: Palestine for the second edition of the Sunbird Stories program, which was launched in partnership with Cinephilia Productions and Drosos Foundation. A state-of-the-art development and production program, Sunbird Stories was created by Filmlab: Palestine and Cinephilia Productions to help generate the growth of imaginative and thought-provoking films for young audiences across the Arab world.
For its 2nd edition, Sunbird Stories will work on the development of five narrative short films, shortlisted from a number of submitted projects, by emerging Arab filmmakers in the genre of children, teen, family and coming of age stories. Sunbird Stories will offer the filmmakers of the selected projects advanced project development and training as well as production packaging and financial and distribution plans.
Submissions for the program are now closed, although the selection process is currently in process. Sunbird Stories received a total of 51 submissions from different countries across the Arab world as follows: 37 submissions from Egypt, five submissions from Lebanon, three submissions from Palestine, three submissions from Jordan, two submissions from Iraq and one submission from Sudan. It is worth noting that 20 female filmmakers submitted their projects this year.
After the shortlisted projects are announced, a jury of industry professionals will organize a table-read for each of the five projects, followed by a Q&A session during the forthcoming edition of CineGouna Platform (CGP), set to take place October 16-21, 2021, during the festival.
Winners will be announced at the closing ceremony of CGP, where two projects will be awarded, each, $20,000 worth of production and post-production services offered by Drosos Foundation.
Just last week, GFF announced that seven Egyptian films will screen during the festival’s upcoming 5th edition, the largest number since its inception.
Festival director Intishal Al Timimi commented then: “We have always been keen to celebrate the best productions in the Egyptian film industry since our inaugural edition. This year, we are proud to have a total of seven Egyptian films selected across different sections. Some have received plaudits and acclaim at international film festivals around the world; others will celebrate their world premiere during the 5th edition of GFF. The diversity of the selection, which comprises documentary, narrative, and short movies, reflects the multitude of talented individuals behind the ever-flourishing Egyptian film industry, and the reason why it has been crowned as the Hollywood of the MENA region for over 80 years.”
Artistic director Amir Ramses added: “This year Egyptian cinema has had a strong presence at international festivals, and we pride ourselves for having one of the most acclaimed films in Cannes this year, Feathers, the internationally acclaimed CineGouna alumni Captains of Za’atari, and Amira (pictured above) by the eminent director Mohamed Diab, which is set to have its world premiere at the forthcoming Venice Film Festival. We will also celebrate the world premieres of Full Moon by the renowned Hadi El Bagoury, Back Home by the rising director Sara Shazli, Cai-Ber by Ahmed Abd El Salam and Khadiga by director Morad Mostafa. Our selection of this distinctive and varied lineup is a nod to the Egyptian film industry, the longest running in the Arab World and the centre of entertainment in the Middle East.”
A few of the Egyptian films have already been picked up for MENA distribution by Film Clinic Indie Distribution.
The fifth edition of El Gouna Film Festival is scheduled to take place from October 14 to 22, 2021 in the resort town of El Gouna on the Red Sea.