“Cinema started as a folk art and we will return it to its origin,” is how the creators of Cima Baladi described their artistic initiative on their Facebook page. Cinema has always been a popular form of entertainment for all segments of society as ordinary citizens could afford tickets to watch a film, unlike ballet or the opera which can be classified as higher-class entertainment.
Under the current economic and political circumstances that impose certain restrictions on the film industry in Egypt, three young independent filmmakers—Bassem Essam, Mohamed Taymor, and Mohamed Selim—decided to unite to overcome the hardships and barriers they encounter in producing their artistic works. On their Facebook page, the founders of the initiative invited amateur and independent filmmakers—whether they were script writers, producers, directors, stylists, or sound engineers—to collaborate together on a number of projects, uniting their efforts and resources.
“Cima Baladi is an independent collaborative non-profit volunteer-based film initiative,” said Essam, one of the founders. “It seeks to create original content from the creative minds of young aspiring filmmakers. We see it as an art project, only for the sake of art.”
In his opinion, the idea revolves around randomness and intuition. Their main mission is to produce the largest number of films at the lowest cost, using any available equipment. “There is no set place for our meetings, and we choose a different local café every time we decide to meet,” he noted.
Although they have not received any funding from cultural institutions, this has not discouraged them in achieving their goals. They intend to provide the participating filmmakers with the standard basic equipment such as cameras, microphones, etc.
“The announced theme for our current and first project is ‘Cairo at Night’. A general theme that will definitely see numerous and various treatment from the different participants,” he added.
The theme will be turned into a feature-length film consisting of a number of separate short stories which will be produced by the participants who are divided into six small groups. Each group will work on one short story not exceeding 20 minutes. The stories must start at sunset and end at sunrise. Another requirement is that they must include some scenes about characters who are moving from one place to another in Cairo.
“We have a number of future projects that we still don’t want to announce until we finish our first feature. You will have to wait and see!” Essam concluded.