The CINEMAMED project has been designed within the framework of Euro-Mediterranean audio-visual co-operation, as defined in the Thessaloniki Conference, with special reference to regional scoped activities.
In particular the project aims at promoting common values and the wealth of cultural diversity, as a statement of the identity of the Mediterranean region, and creating an awareness of its contribution to material and spiritual progress at the international level. For the above stated reasons, the Academy of the Mediterranean, a collegiate Institution which officially represent Euro-Mediterranean culture, has joined the project.
The project has been designed along the lines of the "8.3 - Cinema" action, envisaged in the Euro-Mediterranean programme of audio-visual co-operation "EUROMED AUDIOVISUEL".
It pursues the following goals:
- promoting the optimal use of film heritage in the Mediterranean Partner Countries;
- encouraging the transfer of technologies in this sector;
- encouraging the promotion and distribution of films originating in the Euro-Mediterranean region;
The project is seen by its promoters and patronage providers as a strong
statement attesting that cinema is one of the most effective tools of
communication and cultural dissemination available to humanity at the end
of this century. Cinema draws its noble and deeply-rooted traditions from
many cultural sources, and translates them in a universal language, formally
independent and extraordinarily rich in expressive potential and venues.
However, since its beginnings cinema has been suffering from an innate
contradiction, as it had on the one hand to comply with market and business
rules, while on the other hand it had to become the voice and interpreter
of art and free thinking. The history of Cinema, for several aspects,
parallels the emergence of this conflict, which has not yet found a
satisfying solution. Art and cultural cinema has always had to defend its
independence and autonomy from multiple attempts to constrain it to market,
political and ideological conditioning, and it has been able to escape from
the levelling the market tends to impose on everything, just because it has
been able to depict and represent the truly and authentic cultural voices
and ideas of the people who inspired it. Therefore authorship cinema has been
able to cross national borders, to overcome barriers raised by censorship and
intolerance, thus permeating even its main opponent, the market which cannot
stand its cultural scope, in its being representative of humanity in its entirety,
as a sort of merging between history and nature.
On the basis of the above-mentioned approach, CINEMAMED develops its
programme along the lines guiding Community actions in favour of
Euro-Mediterranean audio-visual co-operation as envisaged by EUROMED AUDIO-VISUAL,
by drawing its legitimacy first of all from the fact that it brings forward the
analysis of different but no less richer cinema productions and structures,
and secondly from the fact that it would encourage the circulation of mind
and art expressions among audiences not usually in touch with such an
opportunity. As European audiences - even the most attentive and aware
ones - are mostly unfamiliar with cinema produced on the South shore
of the Mediterranean, likewise Arab audiences do not know the best contemporary
productions of Europe's authorship cinema. CINEMAMED would pursue the objective
of bridging, even partially, this gap, and increasing the knowledge that
Euro-Mediterranean audiences have of their respective cinema productions.
The project envisages to work towards enhancing and further consolidating
the Euro-Mediterranean film heritage available in the archives, via the
setting up of a databases (relating to the entire cinema production of
the Mediterranean Partner Countries), and the recovery and restoration
of prints which, at the end of their screening cycle, could be kept at
the disposal of researchers and scholars, cultural associations and
co-operation bodies. The value of works proposed by CINEMAMED in its
different sections is therefore only one of its specific features,
as is its idea of combining professional experiences and university
study areas, as well as developing a distribution network capable of
promoting the penetration of Euro-Mediterranean products in their
respective catchment areas, and it does not complete the scope of
the project. Its true aim - as all its components simplify -
consists in encouraging the emergence of a common Euro-Mediterranean
awareness and vision based on mutual respect and understanding and on
the concept of diversity as a value: An inescapable tenet and platform in order to pursue an effective perspective of peace
on both shores of the Mediterranean Sea.
CINEMAMED is a three-year project aiming at encouraging the development of co-operation relations between Mediterranean countries in the film and audio-visual sector.
It entails the implementation of subsequent actions and it establishes a series of meetings pursuing the following objective:
developing the distribution and export of existing European and Mediterranean films between Countries belonging to the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership.
2. CONTENTS AND GENERAL ORGANIZATION
The project will see the participation of several Countries belonging to the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership Programme.
The project leader is represented by :
FONDAZIONE LABORATORIO MEDITERRANEO
Naples, Via Mergellina 35 d
Ph. ++39 81 66 00 74 - Fax ++39 81 66 51 47
Partner Countries (and their respective Institutions) taking part to the project are the following:
- Centre Algérien de la Cinématographie
- Ciémathèque Algérienne (Alger)
- National Film Centre (Cairo) /
- Ministry of Culture (Cairo)
- Les Films du Paradoxe (Paris)
- Cinémathèque de Toulouse (Toulouse)
- Festival du Cinéma Méditerranéen de Montpellier (Montpellier)
- The Royal Society of Fine Arts (Amman)
- Film House (Edinburgh)
- Accademia del Mediterraneo
- Cineteca del Comune di Bologna (Bologna)
- Metropolis Soc. Coop. a r.l. (convenzionata con la Cineteca di Bologna)
- Ente Mostra Internazionale del Cinema Libero ONLUS (convenzionata con la Cineteca del Comune di Bologna)
- Regione Siciliana - Assessorato dei Beni Culturali ed Ambientali e della Pubblica Istruzione C.R.I.C.D.
- Filmoteca Regionale Siciliana
- Coop. CLCT Broadcasting
- Comune di Venezia / Ufficio per le Attività Cinematografiche
- Comune di Cattolica - Assessorato alla Cultura - Ufficio Cinema
- Provincia di Lecce
- Provincia di Napoli
- Filmoteca Española
- Cadi Ayyad University (Marrakech)
- Ministère des Affaires Culturelles du Royame du Maroc (Rabat)
- Académie Libanaise des Beaux- Arts - ALBA (Beirut)
- Neederland Filmmuesum (Amsterdam)
- Cinemateca portuguesa (Lisboa)
- Museo di Cinema (Lisboa)
- Filmoteca Espanola - I.C.A.A. (Madrid)
- Ciudad de Sevilla
- Ministère de la Culture de la République de Tunisie (Tunis)
The following actions have also been envisaged:
- the setting up of a Consulting Committee
- the identification of a Scientific director
3 . LAYOUT OF THE PROJECT
According to the principles and the lines of action previously mentioned, CINEMAMED is structured according to the following lay-out:
PANORAMA OF ARAB/MEDITERRANEAN FILM WEALTH AND HERITAGE IN EU COUNTRIES. This is a wide-scoped event on Arab cinema from Mediterranean countries, called Festival of the Cinema of Arab-Mediterranean Countries, which follows and widens the initiative, with the same name, promoted by the Film Archive of Bologna Municipality since 1988, with its four editions. The Festival - as illustrated in the detailed description of its several sections - intends to present the best contemporary Arab production from Mediterranean countries, and an analysis of some fundamental elements in their historical tradition. This section of the project pursues the objective of disseminating the understanding and knowledge of Mediterranean Arab cinema in Europe, both as historical entity as well as contemporary cultural entity. Through distribution and conservation mechanisms which will be established, it should establish venues in order to facilitate in the near future the circulation in EU countries of the most authoritative films coming from the Southern shores of the Mediterranean.
CINEMA TEACHING AS PRELIMINARY TO PRODUCTION: EUROPEAN APPROACH IN THE ARAB/MEDITERRANEAN ACADEMIC CONTEXT. This section deals with the complex notion of cinema teaching as an essential part of the film production cycle. By its modular workshop approach on scriptwriting for an overall duration of 18 days, it pursues the objective of making the academic context of two Arab-Mediterranean countries (Morocco and Lebanon) interact with the professional experience of two well-known European directors. The field of the workshop activity, which comprises both theoretical analysis and practical exercises, deals with the fundamental area of scriptwriting. A specific seminar, to be held in Montpellier, also tackles the question of the problems linked to the relationship between television broadcasting and the euromediterranean cinema production.
PROMOTION OF THE EURO-MEDITERRANEAN HISTORICAL FILM HERITAGE AND WEALTH. The development of this action would entail an absolutely new retrospective of great relevance, the film production of Salah Abou Seif, the unchallenged genius of Egyptian cinema, the author who - more than any other - has been capable of translating Egypt's soul into images, its depth and extraordinary richness. By this section, CINEMAMED will establish a clear connection between the Arab-Mediterranean film archives and their European counterparts, with the aim of activating co-operation venues leading to the recovery and conservation of the artistic heritage of this extraordinary filmmaker. Through restorating and reprinting a large part of his films, Salah Abou Seif's body of works can be offered to future generations of movie-goers and scholars in a complete and structured layout.
4 DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EACH PART
4.1 PART 1
THE CINEMA OF ARAB MEDITERRANEAN COUNTRIES
The Film Festival of Arab Mediterranean Countries is an event dedicated to the dissemination, in European Countries, of the history and today's configuration of Arab Mediterranean cinema production. It will spring out of the past four editions of the festival dedicated to and named "The Cinema of Arab Countries", and will take place in eight Euromediterranean cities (Bologna, Palermo, Edinburgh, Cattolica, Lecce, Lisboa, Madrid, Amman) from January 2001 to April 2001. Arab Mediterranean countries' cinema has a relatively recent history, nonetheless it followed extremely significant development paths. It accompanied the constitution of national identities which throughout this century were progressively enfranchised from colonialism, and it documented the stages of their subsequent history. In the film productions by Arab Mediterranean countries, therefore, market and industry motives have never prevailed. With just one exception, that of Egyptian cinema for a long time dominating the region's markets, Arab Mediterranean cinema developed under the spur of factors which grounded its first and foremost raison d'être in the historical turns of events concerning the countries where it was made, with both negative and positive consequences. Negative consequences because of the high price that raison d'Etat could impose to art in these instances: rhetoric, Manichaenism, hagiography; positive consequences for the dialectic approach that each enfranchising process would weave with culture through freedom-loving minds and spirits engendered by revolutionary turmoil. In this context Arab Mediterranean cinema has succeeded in nurturing a group of passionate and coherent authors who have progressively stressed the maturity and courage of Said film production: maturity as regards the linguistic standards of the best international cinema, courage and bravery vis-à-vis the imposition and censorship which even today are heaped on whoever treads on the paths of formal experimentation or political opposition. However, Arab Mediterranean cinema, although it has gained momentum - especially in the last two decades - in international festivals thanks to the greatness of its authors, thus managing to break the barriers of commercial distribution with relevant success among audiences, has not been able to consolidate its presence on European screens, and in essence it has been left mostly on the side. And with that, the cultural wealth, the history, the humanity and traditions of peoples whom Arab cinema has been able to depict with such powerful vitality.
The strength of new Arab Mediterranean cinema resides then in authorship cinema, a cinema which wants to express and depict truth and poetry, by drawing from the sources of an authentic cultural tradition, struggling to reach this goal, and to transmit outside of its production borders the essence of the civilisation it is part and parcel, without rejecting any comparison with different experiences, rather feeling that coming into contact with others, by overcoming biases and prejudice, would be a fundamental opportunity to enrich itself.
Brief description of previous editions. The first edition of the festival "Cinema of Arab Countries" was held in 1988, then in 1990, 1993 and 1997. Each edition presented a large panorama of the most qualified film productions from Arab countries and specifically a retrospective dedicated to particularly relevant aspects of the history of Arab Mediterranean countries. Famous filmmakers and film critics from Arab countries have participated to the festival, and catalogues and materials accompanying the films being screened have been published. The festival has seen audiences' growing interest and participation, thus demonstrating that filmgoers' interest could be raised and promoted also for film productions which have been traditionally ignored by commercial distribution, if they have a high artistic and cultural profile, as is the case for the features shown in the festival. Thanks to the participation of renowned guests, the relations struck with Cinema Boards and Institutes from several Arab Mediterranean countries, as well as the rich offer of the programme, the festival has seen its importance grow at European level, as one of the most important events on Arab cinema and culture. The festival has thus promoted the publication and dissemination in Italian bookstores of two important works: the first (Il cinema dei Paesi Arabi, Venice, 1993) dedicated to the analysis of several national filmographies, with a detailed biographical and film dictionary of Arab filmmakers; the second (Il cinema dei Paesi Arabi, Naples, 1997, annex 1) dealing specifically with the thorough analysis of the problems engendered by the crisis that Arab cinema has been facing in recent years.
Programme of the Cinema of Arab Mediterranean Countries
(January 2001 - April 2001)
The screening of 42 long-feature films and 23 short/medium-feature films has been envisaged for the Festival of the Cinema of Arab Mediterranean Countries. CINEMAMED envisages that five long-feature films three short-feature films will be distributed for two years (December 2000 - December 2002) in EU countries, in their original version with English or french subtitles.
Selection criteria for the cities hosting the festival
The festival will be an itinerant event and, as highlighted in its brief outline, it will involve eight important cities: Bologna, Palermo, Edinburgh, Cattolica, Lecce, Lisboa, Madrid and Amman. The selection of the cities and partners to be involved in the event has been carried out according to well-grounded cultural and organisational reasons.
Bologna has been chosen for its being the place where the festival was held in the past, as well as the seat of a prestigious University diploma course (DAMS, Arts, Music and Performance Disciplines), dedicated to the study of cinema in its several historical and contemporary aspects; and because it can tap on the resources of an important institution, such as the Cineteca Comunale (Municipal Film Archive), which would participate - besides providing the Festival with its logistical support - to the restoration activities for the prints included in the retrospective, whenever necessary, through the laboratory it has signed a contract of co-operation with.
The choice of Palermo has been in a sense obvious: the remains of Arab civilisation still stand in all their magnificent beauty in Sicily's capital, and the lively relations between the city's inhabitants and the Arab community has been - and still is - fruitful. The development perspectives of the city of Palermo - and in general of the whole island of Sicily - are closely linked with the fate of the Mediterranean area and the co-operation between the peoples living on its shores. The fact that Sicily's regional government has offered premises to house the newly-established ACCADEMIA DEL MEDITERRANEO, the prestigious body representing 67 Academies and other Cultural Institutions from different Mediterranean countries, and their patronage to this project further backs the choice made of Palermo as a city hosting an event based on the European-Arab dialogue. Montpellier has a strong international reputation based on its long established FESTIVAL DU CINEMA MEDITERRANEEN which makes it a centre of excellence for Mediterranean Cinema and a reference point for its offer of know-how as well as the large and extensively computerised archives.
Edinburgh will host the event as the city where the most important cinema festival in the U.K. is held, further promoting its success both from the point of view of the audience's participation and following, and press and radio-television contacts and coverage. Madrid will host the Festival in the premises of its national film archives, the most representative centre for cinema studies this city can offer, always at the forefront in presenting audiences and critics with the examples of cinema productions least distributed on the commercial market.
Amman is the seat of a prestigious Institution: The Royal Society of Fine Arts, member of right of Mediterranean Academy.
Thus, the selected cities witness the high profile of the proposed project, which is the result of a careful evaluation of the cultural, organisational and promotional potential that the involved cities and institutions could express and share for the success of the festival.
Programme of the Festival
The programme will have the following layout.
a) Panorama of contemporary production for long-feature film
Selection of the most important features produced in different Arab countries in the two-year period 1998-2000. It will comprise around twelve films, both long- and short-features, for the most part never screened before. The films will be selected in co-operation with the directors of Cinema Boards and Institutes from participating countries, and will illustrate their current trends in cinema productions.
b) Panorama of short-feature experimental cinema
This section will be dedicated exclusively to short-feature films (less than thirty minutes) made in the two-year period 1998-2000, with experimental features both as regards their formal structure and production context. The number of shorts to be screened will not exceed twenty films. This initiative intends to assess the presence and quality of independent production both on film and magnetic support, especially in view of the great potential that new shooting and post-production technologies can now offer. The main goal of the section is therefore to gauge the level of penetration of these technologies in the independent production sector of young Arab Mediterranean cinema, and to see whether the use of these resources has opened new venues for young filmmakers in the field of cinema language experimentation and creative freedom.
c) Retrospective: depiction of Cairo in the History of Egyptian Cinema
The retrospective of the Festival would like to illustrate the way Cairo - the "par excellence" capital of the Arab world and the gateway to the East - has been depicted in Egypt's film tradition. Cairo, which has been seen both as a mythical and real, fabled and terribly concrete place, a crossroads of culture and expression of the most authentic Egyptian soul, has been described by the most important authors of Egyptian cinema - from Salah Abou Seif to Youssef Chahine - and in many instances the city has played the role of absolute protagonist in films considered today to be the "classics" of Arab cinema. Thinking about the image of the city in a retrospective would mean overlapping and interspersing different cinema experiences, and open an interdisciplinary discussion on some of the most relevant issues of the contemporary cultural debate concerning Arab Islamic culture and consciousness.
d) Homage to "CINEMATEQUE ALGERIENNE"
The homage to "CINEMATEQUE ALGERIENNE" consists in showing six long features films and 5 short features films, among the most significant and rare titles stored in the archive and, in a round table, illustrating the activity and the situation of this Institution and its future perspectives.
The homage will be completed by the publication of an essay dedicated to the film archives today actively operating in Arab-Mediterranean countries. This essay should describe - in synthesis - their histories, stocks, types of movies stored, cataloguing methods and dissemination of archival materials. This book should not only be an instrument of knowledge of the situation of film archives operating in Arab-Mediterranean countries, but also an effective reference book for archivists, scholars, historians and cultural operators in the field of cinema.
e) Round tables and meetings with authors
The festival of the cinema of Arab Mediterranean countries will not only comprise film screenings, but also meetings and forums with the participation of directors of some of the screened features, Italian and foreign film critics, and University students, for whom a specific seminar on the history of Arab Mediterranean cinema will be organised.
f) The catalogue
The festival will be documented in all its sections by the publication of a catalogue comprising the description and details of screened films, biographical and film production profiles of the authors, and historical and critical reviews illustrating the different sections of the festival. The catalogue will be published in Italian and in English.
CINEMAMED envisages that five long-feature films belonging to the first section of the Festival of the Cinema of Arab Mediterranean Countries, and three short-feature films will be distributed for two years (December 2000 - December 2002) in EU countries, in their original version with English or french subtitles.
4.2 PART 2
(three modules with a duration of 6 days each)
The screenwriting workshop led by young and famous European filmmakers in two prestigious Arab Universities represents the logical development and complement to the Festival of the Cinema of Arab Mediterranean Countries, as described in the previous chapter. The selected locations - Cadi Ayyad University in Marrakech and ALBA in Beyrouth - are the best possible venues where an experimentation workshop such as the one envisaged could take place. The workshop layout - which would examine methodologies and approaches for scriptwriting - will pursue the main objective of illustrating to cinema students concrete examples of scenarios and textual organisation in the specific format of narration for the screen. The workshop will therefore be the focus of the relationship between CINEMAMED and the academic world for the specific discipline highlighted in the event.
The scriptwriting Workshop will be hosted in two Arab cities (Marrakech and Beyrouth) according to three modules of six days each, and it will comprise practical exercises alongside theoretical learning. The workshops will take place in the year 2001.
A seminar on the relationship between euromediterranean cinema and television: the question of broadcast on television networks is also envisaged and will take place in the year 2000 in Montpellier.
4.3 PART 3
RETROSPECTIVE ON SALAH ABOU SEIF
The retrospective dedicated to Salah Abou Seif will be held in two cities (Bologna and Toulouse) in the period September-December 2002.
Salah Abou Seif is the dean of Egyptian cinema. He made his debut in 1946 and up to 1994 he accompanied the history of the cinema of his country, by being the author of some of the best examples of the entire Arab cinematography. Differently from his fellow citizen Youssef Chahine, deeply rooted in European culture and using a film language assimilating the style of Western authorship cinema, Abou Seif, with his 40 long-feature films, is considered the most sensitive interpreter of post-war Egyptian culture and people, depicted by him in all their components. The work of this director is presently not collected and stored in a systematic fashion; therefore the retrospective would mean first of all the research, cataloguing and recovery of a large part of his films. The project thus proposed would aim at systematising from a philological perspective the entire film production by Salah Abou Seif, and restoring a number of 10 prints. Once this work is completed, to be carried out on behalf of Cineteca del Comune di Bologna by its film restoration laboratory, these prints will remain as legal deposit in the premises of the Bologna Film Archive, first of all at the disposal of film archives which are members of the European Film Archives Association and subsequently of FIAF members (Fédération Internationale des Archives du Film).
General Info / Contacts
Web sites: www.euromedi.cinemamed.org, www.cinetecadibologna.it
Fondazione Laboratorio Mediterraneo (Capofila / Coordinator)