By Fatma Ibrahim
Artist initiative Medrar for Contemporary Art has announced they will be hosting the Fifth Cairo Video Festival in September 2013, and is inviting filmmakers to send in their submissions. The festival provides a platform for sharing and discussing low-budget, high-concept experimental videos. The works submitted are all by emerging artists, and discussions with active video makers are held later on to tackle the themes presented in the works. The deadline for submissions is 30 June.
Mohammed Allam, one of Medrar’s founders, explained that although this is the fifth round of the festival since its inception in 2005, it is the first time after the revolution. But Allam hopes that pre-revolution participation will only be a hint of this year’s results. “In 2010, the fourth round received more than 1000 video submissions, out of which 35 were selected for projection. So this year we cannot wait to see what the festival will be like, with all the changes that have happened in Egypt since 2011.”
Allam discussed the criteria on which they choose the videos. “The participants are free to choose the themes they want to express,” he said. “All we look for is creativity, difference, the quality of the ideas and techniques used. Every edition of the festival the panel of judges sets an outline for choosing the videos, but the criteria are more or less the same.”
The founders of Medrar are specialised in visual and experimental arts and are searching for submissions that are based on those perspectives rather than documentaries or commercial movies.
The video festival welcomes participation from all over the world. “International contributions are very valuable,” Allam said. “We previously had works from countries like Holland and Pakistan. It was great to get to know other cultures through movies.”
Submitting movies for the upcoming festival is much easier than in previous years, as participants can fill out the application and send in their videos online. “Previously, it was harder to receive international entries, as more often than not the DVDs we received were either damaged from shipping or had problems passing through the airport customs,” Allam said.
Videos made by individuals, groups, institutions and curators are all welcome. “All they have to do is be creative and have a message to convey,” Allam explained.
Medrar aims to encourage cooperation and competition among artists, locally and internationally, as well as between institutions and critics, in collaborations that engage in the rich arena of media arts. To achieve this, the initiative hosts festivals, art exhibitions, workshops and events. “We are working on a project called ‘Medrar TV’, where we shoot and document the often neglected experimental arts on video,” Allam said. “We also have an ongoing project ‘Open Lab Egypt’, which is about setting up a lab for creating digitronic arts. Medrar offers a space and educational workshops to artists interested in creating digitronic artworks.”