Festival blog Day 2: Delegates, discussions and Damascus

 

Day Two of the Festival started bright and early as our international delegates – directors, writers and producers from across the MENA region – began their two-day series of workshops and events. Round table discussions and lunch at Coutts Bank were followed by a seminar on international producing with the British Council’s Rachel Robey and a debate on women in film hosted by MoFilm – huge thanks to them all for their support with the delegates programme.

Delegates discussed and debated questions of co-production and collaboration, giving us a chance to hear about their upcoming projects along the way (and making us even more excited about the films being made across the Middle East and North Africa at the moment!) Tonight sees delegate Hanan Abdalla’s extraordinary documentary In The Shadow Of A Man – showing the Egyptian revolution through the eyes of its women – screen at BFI Southbank; and we were also pleased to be joined by Yasmin Fedda, whose intimate doc, A Tale of Two Syrias features in the Festival programme at the Barbican on Saturday.

The evening saw our first screening at the ICA, with Soudade Kaadan’s Damascus Roof and Tales of Paradise, presented in partnership with Al Jazeera Documentary Channel. A thought-provoking exploration of the relationship between art and architecture in Kaadan’s home town of Damascus, the film provoked a lively post-screening discussion with Al Jazeera’s Hany Beshr picking up many of the themes explored by Kaadan in her interview with BEV here, and starting a conversation to be continued over the weekend, when A Tale of Two Syrias offers a different perspective on the Syrian crisis. We look forward to our next visit to the ICA for Fashion Loves Film on Tuesday, too!

Over at BFI Southbank we had a double-sell-out night with two exlusive Festival premieres – the first our DFI Short Film showcase, with a hand-picked selection of the best female talent from 2012′s Doha Tribecca International Film Festival, and the second our specially commissioned score for One Arabian Night (Sumurun). Created by Sudanese Jazz musician and vocalist Amira Kheir, this semi-improvised live film accompaniment offered lush melodies and brilliantly inventive instrumentation by a band including double-bass, percussion, Oud and Nay in a combination of traditional East African and contemporary jazz styles in front of a packed, rapturous audience.

For those of you who missed out, One Arabian Night returns next Sunday 14 April at Bristol’s Watershed, and for London audiences there’s still one last chance to catch our second live music commission, rising star Bushra El-Turk’s East-meets-West contemporary classical score for pioneering animation The Adventures of Prince Achmed at Barbican tonight (Fri 5 April, 7pm).

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