This past Sunday, the Future Shorts film festival seamlessly emerged in the Amuse Lifestyle Concept store located in Zamalek, Cairo — becoming the 132nd location added to the London-based pop-up festival.
Set up in 2003, Future Shorts provides a platform for filmmakers and enthusiasts to submit creations and screen the best short films within the ever-growing list of networked cities.
The idea is that anyone, anywhere can set up a screening and be part of the Future Shorts film network and global community, breaking the boundaries of traditional cinema and engaging the audience to experience the films.
The idea to bring the Future Shorts festival to Cairo was the collective dream of film enthusiasts Sara El-Adl, Mostafa Talaat and Salma and Kareem El-Shaffei.
“The idea was to bring together various art forms — including film, art, fashion, music — into one location, covering and combining all of our passions,” El-Adl told Daily News Egypt.
Kareem El-Shaffei said, “It’s called a pop-up festival because it works off the idea that screenings can literally pop-up in the middle of your community, redefining the social experience one has with going to the movies.”
Located in the belly of Amuse’s 500-square-meter store, and surrounded by this season’s latest arrivals in contemporary fashion wear and accessories, Future Shorts redefined the relationship between fashion and film for local cultural enthusiasts.
Co-owner of Amuse, Viviane Abdel Messih, told DNE, “From its inception, Amuse has always been more than a retail store — we seek to incorporate the space into your every day lifestyle — fashion is linked to art, music, movies. It was great seeing the space utilized for this type of cultural initiative.”
In front of a diverse 200+ person audience, the evening kicked off with a performance by local singer/songwriter Nadya Shanab and her patriotic songs about Egypt, followed by the screening of six short films.
The movies screened included award-winning shorts such as “Incident by a Bank” by Swedish director Ruben Ostlund. The 12-minute film is a humorous account of an attempted bank robbery seen from the perspective of two confused witnesses, the filmographer and the producer.
Taking home the Golden Bear award at the Berlinale festival, the film questions the realities of why and how banks are actually robbed, combating the often cliché action set-pieces popularized by Hollywood.
The Australian short “Deeper than Yesterday,” directed by Ariel Kleiman, questions the idea of man’s struggle with isolation and madness when a crew of Russian seamen is struck with cabin fever. The film landed Kleiman the International Short Filmmaking Award at Sundance in 2010.
In the nine-minute stop-motion animation film, “The Eagleman Stag,” director Michael Please depicts the lifeline of a man and his futile obsession with calculating and measuring the passage of time.
“Luminaris,” by Argentinean director Juan Pablo Zaramella, also questions the human relationship with time in a surrealist, stop-motion film form charting the love story between two light bulb factory workers.
Audience favorites included Luke Matheny’s innovative comedy “God of Love,” a modern-day tale of Cupid, and German director David O’Reilly’s “The External World.”
In the latter, O’Reilly’s brilliant yet disturbing collections of vignettes portray the darkly humorous struggle of a boy learning to play the piano. Through references to pop culture, cinema and video games, this surrealist experience creatively addresses the fears and anxieties associated within a modern civilized society.
The evening wrapped up with a surprise screening of local filmmaker Mohamed Hammad’s “Pale Red,” which won two awards for best short film — one in the Alexandria Film Festival and the other in the Kazan Film Festival in Russia.
Hammad, who is mostly known for his highly controversial short film “Call Center” (2007), connotes his narrative from the people he observes. In the past several years, his thematic interests are often tied to women’s struggle in Egypt and their relationship with society.
“Pale Red,” a 15-minute coming-of-age story, follows an Egyptian girl who discovers her womanhood when she leaves behind her childish undergarments, and goes through the process of purchasing new red lingerie.
Using simple dialogue, subtly beautiful shots, and varying camera angles, Hammad succeeds in transporting the viewer into the perspective of the main character.
“The female age segment of 15-25 is often displaced by society,” Hammad told DNE. “A significant amount of pressure is put on these women to be ashamed of their bodies and their sexuality.
“During this transition [into womanhood], women are often treated as though they do not exist, and because of that, they stop believing in themselves and their individuality.”
When watching Hammad’s film, it’s difficult not to instantly think about the recent disturbing images and video of the girl in the blue bra being savagely beaten by army forces near Tahrir Square.
“The norm is that girls shouldn’t be ashamed if their undergarments slightly pop out,” Hammad added, “but now women have to fear the exact opposite — being forced to show their bras by the very people who are supposed to protect them.”
Overall, the inaugural Future Shorts festival is a welcomed addition to Cairo’s culture circle. In a world that often feels as though dreams are for sale, Future Shorts and their network of filmmakers and enthusiasts prove that dreams, if pursued, are not as unattainable as they once seemed.
For more information on Future Shorts and screenings please visit: