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COVID-19 refreshes Egypt’s independent films’ market with free online views

CAIRO – 29 March 2020: A number of independent filmmakers took advantage of the imposed house quarantine to announce the availability of their independent films, especially documentaries, for audiences to watch online for free.
This achieves a recovery for this type of films, which may not have much share in reaching the public through cinemas that are usually controlled by commercial films.
The beginning was with the "Watch and Stay at Home" initiative launched by Zawya Cinema in parallel with the suspension of its activities indefinitely, to encourage and support people in the period of social isolation.
Zawya announced on its official page on Facebook the availability of several independent films for viewing online. Most of the films are documentaries.
Zawya Cinema has announced the availability of “Gai el-Zaman” directed by Dina Hamza until April 1. The film mainly revolves around the director's feelings of loneliness especially after the demise of her late father in 2010. These feelings of loneliness and unease were vicious enough to give the grieving director nightmares and suicidal thoughts.
In an attempt to escape her negative feelings, Hamza turned to the radio, which her late father left behind. Tuning the radio to certain channels broadcasting songs, Hamza starts listening to the songs her late father wrote for the superstars of the golden era; Abdel Halim Hafez, and Shadia, Warda, among others.
During the film’s events, Hamza embarks on an ongoing search for her late father, poet Mohammed Hamza. She desperately searches for himin people, time and places.
The second film was the documentary "Thelal" directed by Marianne Khoury and Mustafa Hasnaoui, which is available to watch for free until March 30. The film explores one of the most confidential files in Egypt: Mental illness.
Meeting these mentally ill men and women who were expelled by the Egyptian society to these hospitals compels the viewer to put his preconceptions to test.
It is the first time ever that the camera has passed through the gates of the mental health institutions that have been withheld for a long time.
Furthermore, Zawya's initiative included the screening of the documentary films "Meel Ya Ghazeel" directed by Eliane el-Raheb, and "Ya Omri" directed by Hadi Zakkak, whose period of viewing ended March 24.
In addition, director Ahmed Rashwan announced on his official account on Facebook that three of his films are made available for free viewing on Vimeo.
The films are: “Basra”, which was produced in 2008 and starred Bassem Samra and Nahed el-Sebai. The film revolves around the life of a group of educated young women and men who live in Egypt as friends. The group has their way of thinking and possesses a lot of ambition and joy.
However, with the start of the Iraq War, the devastating events had its toll on the group. It prevents one of them from traveling abroad in pursuit of education. The war in Iraq does not ignite negativity in Basra and Baghdad alone; it has, in fact, wrecked the once joyful souls of these friends.
The second film is “Gowa el-Bashar”, produced by the National Cinema Center in 1998. The film focuses on the life of nun Celeste el-Khayyat, founder of the Coral Association of Upper Egypt.
The film is set in Bayadeya, one of the villages of Upper Egypt, when a nun called Celeste el- Khayyat returns to her village to see the developments that befell the choir t that she formed years ago and then accompanies them on a trip to Cairo to perform in the capital.
Rashwan's third available documentary film is "Mawlod Fe January 25", which revolves around the spark of a strike on May 27, calling for the civilization of the Egyptian state.
Moreover, director Saad Hindawi announced the availability of his movie "Doaa Aziza", which had its international premiere at the Dubai Festival.
The film traces the journey of two Egyptian girls from 2005 until the date of the production of the film. Aziza plans to emigrate and Doaa wants to leave France and return to live in Egypt.



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