The Arabian Cinema Awards 2016 Launch to Overwhelming Acclaim
The time was ripe; Egypt has just rolled out its first event to recognize achievements in the local film industry. Part of a rich history of film production dating from the founding of Studio Misr back in the 1920’s, Egypt’s stars, directors, screen-writers, cinematographers, make-up artists, and wardrobe designers have had to sit back and watch the world celebrate each year’s cinematic offerings in glamorous star-studded occasions around the globe, with a mere few of them being lucky to get a look-in as foreign movie nominees.
Now, with advent of the annual Arabian Cinema Awards, not only our stars, but also the unsung heroes who contribute so much behind the scenes to bring the final product to our screens get the nod they so well deserve.
Cairo East Magazine sat with event co-organizer and industry veteran, Amr Koura of Creative Arab Talent to get the inside story on how it all came about. >>
CEM: Amr, how did this very first Arabian Cinema Awards come into being?
AK: It had become obvious that our local film industry deserved an event on par with the major film industry award ceremonies held in key locations around the world each year. Co-organizer of the event, Maged Hosny of Dear Guest, had wanted to create this for quite a while, so when we met at one of his well-known Dear Guest ceremonies a few years ago, the seed of the idea started to take root. It was the combination of his event-planning expertise and my in-depth knowledge of the television and film industry, coupled with my extensive network of key people in their fields that helped it become a reality. I must admit, in the end the time frame was tight; from the day we actually put our plan into action to the moment we rolled out the red carpet it was only three to four months.
What were your objectives when the planning got under way?
Both Maged and I strongly felt that recognition was long overdue for members of the film community in Egypt, right across the board. Importantly, it had to be given in an event with integrity, something that was not merely a ‘rubbing of shoulders’; something that could bring a clearer focus onto all the people needed to make a film or series, as well as showing works of 2015 that had exhibited a level of excellence throughout a range of disciplines.
The event has been widely acclaimed as a notable success, what do you attribute this to?
We set out with three main things in mind. Firstly, to create a credible award occasion, based on sound principles. Even the nominees for each award were kept totally in the dark, as was the winner, until the magic moment when the envelope was opened.
Secondly, we were not looking for just glitz and glamour, even though we did have the right amount of that. We wanted an elegantly understated ambiance, where the true craft of the nominees would be able to shine.
Of course, having live television coverage on Al Nahar TV was most important; it elevated the sense of anticipation and brought the viewers into the excitement.
What influenced your choice of venue?
The Movenpick Media City theatre was the obvious choice for us, both in terms of location and facilities. Guests had comfortable seating in the right ambiance, conducive to relaxing and enjoying the program. It worked according to plan.
It seems that you have enjoyed a lot of positive feedback since the event, tell us more.
What can I say? A perfect score! The media reaction has been extremely positive, and we have had a flood of great post-event communication from people in the industry, both here in Egypt and abroad. Arab broadcasters have already expressed interest in cooperation with us, maybe by creating a sister event for the television industry, something akin to the Emmy Awards.
Even at this early stage we are receiving requests from leading stars to be included in the award giving ceremony at ACA 2017. Based on that alone I think we can look forward to something equally special next year. We look forward to welcoming participants from the whole MENA region, an exciting prospect.
Do you think the Arabian Cinema Awards will prove to be a good launch-pad for boosting the careers of up-and-coming actors, cinematographers and the like?
The response from industry professionals has been palpable. A lot of film crew have become interested in the event and accompanying exposure, it seems to be a motivating influence. By showcasing the skills of our people it boosts the image of our local production abilities no end. People may not have realised how the notable talent of many of our cinematographers and cameramen has been able to develop recently. Whereas in past years, film-editing had to be carried out overseas due to lack of the very specialised facilities required, with digital technological advances we are now able to handle this inside Egypt. Now we see our cinematographers turning out some truly spectacular camera work, equal to anything you would see outside of the country.
How easy, or difficult, is it for young people to break into the industry?
As you probably know, the protocol within the local industry is fairly entrenched. Introductions mean a lot, without them it is hard to get a look-in. That being said, anyone who gets in will have to prove their ability to be able to survive. The normal route would be through graduating from the High Institute of Cinema or the Egyptian Cinematographic Institute in Alexandria, along with having the right connections. The field is opening up these days however, as the industry itself is being revolutionized by fast-paced change.
Visual entertainment has never been in stronger demand than now, with the digital options available for viewing 24/7, in any situation. People are waking up to the realization that a new approach is needed to maximize the pool of talent Egypt has to offer. That is where an agent becomes essential for any actor, screenwriter, or film professional hoping to get a rung higher in the ladder of this competitive business. It’s all about the buzz.
What role does your company Creative Arabian Talent play in this?
A lot. An agent opens up avenues of opportunity through a very well established network of people in the industry, both locally and abroad. Without an experienced agent, it is difficult to grab the attention needed to land a good contract. It has been an alien concept for many actors here, many of which depend on their own efforts or the help of a manager. Initially even the producers were hard to win over; the informal structure of their casting was a habit hard to break. We proved our worth though when the demands of the Ramadan season came around.
Our company also adopts a managerial role, so it hasn’t taken long for the benefits to show. We can help organize schedules and take care of the miscellaneous things that block an actor’s time and energy, this frees them to do what they need to do: act!
Our subsidiary casting company has over 2,000 actors in its database, so it is easy to search when someone is needed for a role. The benefit to these hopefuls starting out is that once they get their first contract we are willing to sign them up and represent them.
Through our efforts and resources we expect greater demand for our Egyptian talent, both regionally and further afield, a win-win situation for all.
Arabian Cinema Awards Winners 2016
Life Achievement Award
Best Writing (Original Screenplay)
Daoud Abdel El Sayed – Kodorat Gheir Adeyya
Tarek El Erian – Welad Rezk
Best Actor in a Leading Role
Nour El Sherif – Betawqeet El Qahera
Best Actress in a Leading Role
Mona Zaki – Aswar El Amar
Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Ahmed El Fishawy – Welad Rezk
Best Actress in a Supporting Role:
Amina Khalil – Sukar Mor
Best Music (Original Score)
Hisham Nazih – Aswar El Amar
Best Visual Effects
Tarek Refaat – Aswar El Amar
Mazen El Motagawel – Welad Rezk
Best Sound Mixing
Gomaa Abdel Latif – Qodorat Gheir Adeyya
Tasaheel (Assala & Basata) – Welad Rezk
Best Film Editing
Ahmed Hafez – Sukar Mor
Onsi Abu Seif – Qodorat Gheir Adeyya
Best Costume Design (Styling)
Riham Assem – Welad Rezk
Sayed Abdel Ghani – Sukar Mor
Tarek Mostafa – Khareg El Khedma
Best Sound Editing
Salma El Barouni – Qodorate Gheir Adeyya