After establishing itself in cities like Beirut, Dubai and Amman, the 48 Hour Film Festival is finally coming to Cairo. The project will put filmmakers’ creativity to the test Thursday 13 September by challenging them to produce an entire short film over a (presumably) sleepless weekend.
Everything from the script to the acting and editing must be completed within 48 hours and dropped at a specific location, in this case Darb 1718 in Old Cairo, by deadline.
The idea originated 11 years ago in Washington DC and has since expanded to 120 countries worldwide. Lebanese producer and city producer for the project in Cairo, Mohamed Rida explained, “I studied film in the US and I worked on the 48 hour film project in New York City so I have the knowledge of how the project works and I wanted to bring it here.
“The idea is to encourage filmmakers to get out there and make films but above all to have fun. If they take it too seriously, they tend to have high expectations of themselves and it does not always translate well into their work. The emphasis is on making something fresh and being creative.”
He explained that Cairo was initially the second choice after his native Beirut but the 25 January uprising that ousted Mubarak was an obvious obstacle. “Since this our first time in Cairo, one requirement is to have some indication that your film was shot in Cairo,” said Rida. “However, we do not like to complicate things and set too many rules because after all the focus is on spontaneity.”
The reception has been very positive, according to Rida, who said the project does not require any prior experience. The respondents have included everyone from amateur filmmakers to students, Rida said. “In Dubai, the winner was only 21 years old but he was on top of his tools and he knew exactly what he wanted to do.”
The project starts on Thursday and films must be completed by Saturday at 7pm. Teams are given a specific genre, a character, a prop and a line of dialogue to include in their film. Rida said they are also given a second chance to be assigned another genre if they “absolutely hate their genre” but after that, they have to use it to ensure equal ground for all teams involved.
If a film does not make deadline, it can still be shown to the audience and participate in the audience choice awards but not in the official competition. The winner from each city is then screened at Filmapalooza in Hollywood and given a further chance to qualify for the Cannes short film corner.
The 48 Hour Film Festival will show the films after the drop on Saturday, and all teams will get an audience for their film, an experience they will likely appreciate regardless of who wins. Registration is still ongoing until tomorrow which still gives time for those wanting to test their creative and teamwork skills to join the project.
The films are expected be interesting, if not necessarily polished, as they force entrants back to basics and into the raw process of filmmaking, emphasising, in their words, “doing” over “talking”.