Last January Youtube and Scott Free, the production company of Ridley and Tony Scott, launched the short film festival Your Film. The festival invited filmmakers to submit their work to compete for the final prize of USD 500,000 to fund a film, produced by Scott Free. The final 10 contestants will be flown to the Venice film festival where the films will be screened and an international jury, led by Ridley Scott, will select the winner.
As soon as the announcement was made, filmmakers from all over the globe flooded the offices of Scott Free with entries. The rules for the competition were simple: the directors had to be at least 18 years of age, the length of the movie below 15 minutes and could not have been shown to the public before January 2010. Out of the 15,000 entries the production company selected the 50 best and they are now being shown on a dedicated Youtube channel where the public has the opportunity to vote for their favourite entry until 13 July. The results will determine the 10 films to be shown in Venice.
One of the 50 films featured is titled This Time and is made by young Egyptian filmmaker Ramy El-Gabry. Recounting the urban legend of a son abandoning his mother to the kindness of strangers, the 11 minute film combines familiar vignettes of Cairo life with slow and careful cinematography.
“The movie was already finished when I found out about the competition,” explained Ramy El-Gabry. “I send it to the producers and hoped for the best.” The best happened because El-Gabry’s film This Time was selected as one of the 50 finalists. At the time of writing the short film has been viewed over a 195,000 times, which was 30,000 times more than the next film up. El-Gabry graduated in 2009 from the International Academy for Media Science with a degree in cinematography and directing and has made five short films since.
“It has been difficult to shoot in the current situation in Egypt,” El-Gabry said. “The streets are not safe and it is not clear who we should ask for permission so I have not been working as much as I would like.”
If the viewing public follows up with voting for the This Time, El-Gabry may join the 10 directors in Venice to have his work screened during the festival. “Of course it would be great to win and have the budget to make a feature film” he said, “but I will keep making the films I want regardless if I win or not.”
When asked about upcoming projects El-Gabry explains he has several movies waiting to be made. “I only want to make movies that tell a story that can influence the perceptions of people though, I want to change the way people think. This means the timing of a movie is very important.”
Commercial success is not a goal in itself, nor is the filmmaker interested in accepting a job just for financial gain. “I want to make the movies that show what I think, I don’t want to compromise and make artistic decisions just to please people.” Judging from the amount of times This Time has been viewed, El-Gabry seems to have managed to please the audience while staying true to his vision.
It is not clear if all the viewers will cast their vote for This Time, but no matter what happens, El-Gabry has established himself as a director we will hear from again.