Sherif Elbendary’s Dry Hot Summers and Dalia Al-Kury’s Possessed By Djinn are among the projects currently being produced with support from Robert Bosch Stiftung, which aims to build bridges between Germany and the Arab world.
The third winner of Robert Bosch Stiftung’s 2014 Film Prize for International Cooperation is short animation Manivelle – Memories Of The Man Of Tomorrow, directed by Lebanon’s Fadi Baki.
Dry Hot Summers is a 30-minute narrative film that Elbendary is directing from a script by Nura Elsheikh. The story follows a man who is searching for a bag containing important medical documents. He encounters a woman who is taking her marriage arrangements into her own hands. Germany’s Claudia Jubeh is co-producing with Egypt’s Hossam Elouan.
“It shares with my previous films the theme of loneliness and isolation and the search for a moment of relief,” says Elbendary. “As in my previous films, the main character is in a permanent search for something, even if it is a very simple thing.
Elbendary is also working on his debut feature Two Rooms And A Parlour for Egypt’s Film Clinic. His award-winning short films include Rise And Shine, At Day’s End and Curfew.
Possessed By Djinn is a 75-minute documentary that follows the true story of a four-year-old Jordanian girl killed by her father because he believed her to be possessed by demons or “djinn”.
Jordanian filmmaker Dalia Al-Kury made her feature documentary debut with Girls At Heaven’s Door in 2009, which was invited to several film festivals. She will co-produce her new film with Carl-Ludwig Rettinger of Germany’s Lichtblick Films.
Both Dry Hot Summers and Possessed By Djinn are in post-production.
Currently in pre-production, Manivelle is about a robot that is built to last forever searching for its final resting place. Produced by Lebanon’s Rolly Dib and Germany’s Niklas Hlawatsch and Bernadette Klausberger, the 12-minute fantasy intends to take the viewer through 68 years of Lebanon’s history.
Launched in 2012, Robert Bosch Stiftung’s Arab programme aims to match producers and filmmakers in the Arab world with German producers. The initiative covers short films, short animation and short or feature-length documentary.
One of the winners in the first round, Lebanese filmmaker Bass Breche’s Free Range, is screening at this year’s Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF). Based on actual events, the 18-minute film is the story of a cow that crosses the border from Israel to Lebanon.
“One of the foundation’s aims is to encourage international exchanges – and the Film Prize gives young filmmakers an opportunity to learn about the international market and co-production,” explains Film Prize coordinator Karin Angela Schyle.
The programme starts with a projects market in Jordan over the summer where Arab filmmakers meet with potential German co-producers. Projects that secure German producers can then apply to take part in a ‘Nominees Forum’ in Berlin in November, which involves workshops and training in pitching.
Then teams then have about one month to revise their projects, before the jury selects and announces prize winners at the Berlin film festival. Later in the year, the prize winners are evaluated at Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF).
In addition to DIFF and Berlin film festival, the Film Prize is also partnered with Jordan’s Royal Film Commission and Cairo’s Cimatheque.
“It offers a chance for both sides to learn about each other,” Schyle says. “The partnerships also offer access to networking platforms, which is most important for filmmakers now.”