The opening day brought together several stars from the Arab world while day two saw the opening of the fifth edition of the Malmo Market Forum, the industry arm of the festival, which offers a number of production grants for documentaries and features.
The ninth edition of the Malmö Arab Film Festival (MAFF), running from October 4-8 in Malmö, Sweden, has brought together more than 150 Arab stars, directors and film professionals – reportedly the largest such gathering for an Arab cinema festival outside the Arab world, according to founder and president, Mouhamad Keblawi.
The red carpet evening brought together Egyptian stars Shereen Reda, Asser Yassin and Mona Hala; Palestinian director Mai Masri and Tunisian director Najib Belkadi among others.
MAFF also supports Arab cinema through the MAFF Market Forum fund, and the distribution of Arab films in Swedish theatres.
The guest of honour tribute was awarded to Tunisian cinema, with a shield received by Karima Amirat, representative of the Tunisian National Centre of Cinema and Image (CNCI). An honorary tribute was also awarded to the late producer Nejib Ayed, Director of Carthage Film Festival. It was received by Lamia Guiga, Artistic Director of Carthage Festival.
The post-dinner festivity was marked by the screening of the opening film, Look at Me at Panora Cinema. Tunisian director Nejib Belkadhi presented his film to the Malmö audience with enthusiasm for the film’s first screening in Sweden, after its successful tour to several film festivals.
Day two kicked off with the opening of the fifth edition of the Malmo Market Forum, the industry arm of the festival, a welcome speech by festival president, director Mouhamad Keblawi, followed by a panel entitled Tunisian Cinema Between the Past and the Present, in which Tunisian academic experts Tarek Ben Chaabane and Salim Ben Cheikh spoke.
Following the panel, pitching sessions for the MAFF Market Forum Fund projects commenced. Film professionals attended the pitching of three documentary projects in the development phase, followed by five feature film projects in the development phase.
At the same time, Panora cinema was filled with an audience that came to watch and discuss the latest in Arab cinema with its makers. The day witnessed nine screenings, beginning with the Egyptian animation film The Knight and The Princess by Bashir Al-Deek and Ibrahim Musa, followed by a discussion with director Ibrahim Musa, moderated by Iraqi critic Erfan Rashid. Then the first set of short films, followed by a discussion with the directors moderated by short film programmer Mohamed Atef.
In the feature film competition, three films were screened in the presence of its directors. The audience watched the Moroccan film The Healer, which was discussed with Director Mohamed Zeineddine. The screening of Tunisian film Fatwa was followed by a discussion with Director Mahmoud Ben Mahmoud and the screening of the Egyptian film The Guest was followed by a discussion with Director Hadi El Bagoury and actress Sherine Reda.
The documentary competition included three films, namely Lebanese films Underdown and Erased, Ascent of the Invisible and Syrian-Lebanese film The Way Home.