August 11th 2011: The Arab Fund for Arts and Culture (AFAC), in partnership with Proaction Film, launches the project “Baladi” which aims to fund three to five original documentary films in Syria in honor of late filmmaker Omar Amiralay.
This exceptional initiative transfers the grant that Amiralay had been awarded by AFAC in 2009 for “Seduction”, a project that was not fated to see the light of day, into a new source of funding for current and worthy film projects by young Syrian filmmakers. “Baladi” will build on Amiralay’s unique and prolific legacy and his piercing vision of reality.
Commenting on the launch of the project, Oussama Rifahi, Executive Director of AFAC, says: "In appreciation of late Omar Amiralay’s lifetime dedication to cinema, the great impact his works have left on Arab Cinema in general and the inspirational status he has among young Syrian filmmakers in particular, we have transferred the fund to “Baladi” in acknowledgment of the importance of documentary filmmaking in keeping pace with the changes and measuring the pulse of societies, and to fulfill our core objective in supporting independent film production and encouraging young talent in the Arab region."
Proaction Film received a grant for film production (50 thousand U.S. dollars) from the first round of the ADFP, the Arab Documentary Film Program, which is run by AFAC in collaboration with the Sundance Institute and offers annual support to fifteen documentary film projects in stages of development, production and post production. At that time, the grant went to the project "Seduction" and its director Amiralay. “Seduction” was initiated thirty years ago when, upon meeting the Syrian actress “Ighraa”, a sex symbol of Syrian cinema (“Ighraa” means ‘Seduction’) she surprised Amiralay by saying: "There is a common denominator between us, you will discover it one day." Amiralay had described the project, saying: "... In every sense of the word, she [Ighraa] is a symbol of the situation of Arab societies. Whether it has to do with the status of women or with the rise of religious extremism, “Ighraa” has followed from her glory years the shocking regression from which we are all suffering. "
Speaking of the “Baladi” initiative, the producer and founder of Proaction Film, Orwa Nyrabia, says: "There are three key factors that make “Baladi" a natural continuation of “Seduction”: The close relationship between the late director and young filmmakers, the social and political circumstances through which Syria is going through today, and the tragic absence of Amiralay during these transitions. "Baladi" is in some way the project that Omar would have taken on, had he still been present with us today. "
“Baladi” will be completed in several stages and produced by Proaction Film. It begins by receiving projects, selecting three to five of them by a panel of jurors, followed by project development and production under the supervision of a committee of experts and advisers to be ready for viewing by the end of 2012.
Other Arab and foreign funding institutions will contribute with AFAC and Proaction Film to the realization of the project.
A feature documentary film project created in partnership with several young Syrian documentary filmmakers to represent everyday life in Syria through interlocking short films, each bearing the unique voice of its author and together painting a picture of Syrian society today.
The project aims to provide professional production support of the highest quality to the participating young Syrian filmmakers and in collaboration with international distinguished specialists. An international committee of jurors will select between 3 and 5 films of short and medium-length with the project end planned by end of 2012. The project will be produced by Proaction Film in partnership with AFAC and other Arab and international institutions.
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PROACTION FILM is the Levant’s leading expert of Creative documentary film and television, production, international co-production, distribution and promotion. Eight years after its establishment, PROACTION FILM offers profound know-how, highly demanding standards and profound support and understanding of both the creative and the technical aspects of filmmaking.
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