Igniting Infinite Imaginations: Meet our 25 Cinema Grantees 2023
27 / 11 / 2023

25 filmmakers from 11 Arab countries have been selected to receive support under our Cinema grant program for 2023. We thereby close our 2023 grant year with this selection of 25 film projects (15 feature films and 10 short films), reached from the review and evaluation of 307 applications by two separate jury committees (one for each section).

The jury committee for feature projects was composed of Lebanese producer Sabine Sidawi, Egyptian filmmaker Ayten Amin, as well as Tunisian producer and director Alaeddine Slim. As for the applications for short-length projects, they were evaluated by Egyptian director Nadine Salib, Tunisian movie-theater director Kais Zaied, and Lebanese producer Tania El Khoury. Both jury committees convened in October, and following the deliberations, issued the below jury statements:

Feature Films Jury Statement:

    What about our past? What about our present? What about our imaginary? What about our place in today's world?

    So many themes and subjects ran through the projects received from different countries in the Arab region. These projects demonstrated great vitality and creativity, with their singular points of view and original approaches.

    An idea and practice of a free cinema emerged from most of the proposals, a cinema that emanates from our daily lives and embraces universal and topical subjects, such as people’s relationship with memory, the passage from childhood to adulthood, the power of women, the relationship with the other, South-South migration, conflicts, wars.

    As a jury, we were looking for projects that had their own internal values, that were propositions of a reading and re-reading of their own material, that ventured a moving image that questioned the basis of cinema and the world today. We've noticed that genre films were the most prevalent among those submitted, and we're delighted to see that filmmakers have broadened the scope of their treatments. We paid particular attention to first and second films, which surprised us with their degree of innovation, both in terms of storytelling and in terms of direction. We're delighted that so many of the projects are led by women directors or producers.

    In these difficult times for our region, it's very important to see, as reflected in our selection, that filmmakers continue to champion regional cinema with their rich points of view.

    We would like to thank the AFAC team for giving us the opportunity to welcome so many imaginations and to follow the genesis of future films that mirror our world today.

Short Films Jury Statement:

    Most of the projects submitted for this grant cycle find new and creative ways to tell powerful, nuanced stories. Despite a diversity in themes, a number of projects submitted tackle issues that are central to women. In most of them, the portrayal of men — and of fathers in particular — is wholly negative. There was also a broad interest in artistic explorations of environmental issues.

    To our surprise, we received a large number of animation films.

    There was a large number of submissions by first-time filmmakers, a testament to the emergence of a new and promising talent pool. However, these projects could benefit from stronger production support, particularly when it comes to how films are pitched.

    We were sorry to see significantly fewer submissions by women than men, a reality that has made a gender-balanced list of grantees impossible.

This year’s directors, half of whom are steering their first film, bring forward innovative treatments to topics that range from the intimate, private and personal, to the social, historical and political. Their film projects are set to ignite the imaginary, while treating the past, the present, and the future with perspicacity and an acute sense of what’s real.

Here is the full list of Cinema 2023 projects. To dive into the specifics of each selected director and his/her project, click through to their separate dedicated pages.