Egyptian producer Mohamed Hefzy joins the Sundance Film Festival jury

Egyptian film producer and president of the Cairo International Film Festival, Mohamed Hefzy, will be part of the jury for the World Cinema Dramatic Competition at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

The invitation is a recognition of its central position in the world of Arab cinema.

“It is truly an honor to be part of such a jury,” said Hefzy, 46. The National. “Sundance is one of the great festivals and always discovers great new talent from the United States and around the world. It’s a competition that I participated in as a producer, and I’m happy to be a judge .”

I want to watch the movies in the best possible quality and respect the intention of the filmmakers as much as possible

Mohamed Hefzy, film producer

His fellow jurors are director Andrew Haigh, who made 45 years old and Lean on Pete, and La Frances Hui, the esteemed film curator of the Museum of Modern Art.

Since the invitation arrived, the Sundance Film Festival has had to move online due to the Omicron broadcast. “So I will look [it] at home, showing the movies on the big screen,” says Hefzy, who says he’s blessed with excellent projection facilities at home. “I want to see the films in the best possible quality and respect the intention of the filmmakers as much as possible. I can.

“In an ideal world, I would have loved to be in Park City, Utah. I still think it’s great to have that energy to watch movies in the theater with the jury and sometimes with the audience. I think that’s the best thing to do, watch the movies in a controlled environment with good quality sound and video.”

There are 10 films in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition: Brian and Charles, a robot comedy set in Wales; Dos Estaciones, which chronicles the life of a struggling tequila factory in Mexico; Soft, about a female bodybuilder preparing for the world championship; the finnish coming of age tale Girl picture; Klondike, a drama set in eastern Ukraine following the crash of flight MH17; Leonor will never die, about an aging actress’ fight to stay relevant; Brazilian political drama Marta Um (Mars One); Chilean environmental drama The cow that sang a song in the future; utama, about a drought in Bolivia and on the Altiplano; and You won’t be alone, a period drama set in a mountain village in 19th-century Macedonia.

Hefzy says he’s “looking for films that show exciting locations and a diversity of world cinema, and it’s going to be exciting to check out some of those films and filmmakers.”

These won’t be the only films Hefzy will watch. “I plan to watch movies outside of the World Dramatic Competition. I’m looking forward to watching Arabic movies, some of the American titles and as many documentaries as I can, because I think Sundance turned out to be the best. ‘one of the best documentary launch platforms.”

He says some of them may end up at the Cairo International Film Festival this year. Last year, Hive debuted at World Cinema Dramatic before playing in Cairo. “I’m not the one who selects the film in Cairo, it’s the artistic director, but as president I have a voice, and sometimes I recommend films, so some of these films may end up in Cairo.”

See photos from the opening of the Cairo Film Festival in 2021:

He sees Sundance as a potential model for Arab film festivals. “Sundance has helped independent films in America thrive. Very few festivals in the Arab world have managed to do that. I think [at] Cairo [film festival], we try to support Arab cinema, Dubai used to support Arab cinema in a great way, and I think now the Red Sea International Film Festival is really aiming to do that, in addition to other festivals like El Gouna and Carthage.”

At the moment, he says, “Arab films are trying to get into the top festivals in the West, but the premiere in the Arab world will always give these films a spotlight to get them written about in the press. regional and that they are exposed”.

Since founding his production company Film Clinic in 2005, Hefzy has been behind some of the most important films in the Middle East, including Shock, Yomeddine, Huda’s living room and Sudad. These are just the tip of a huge iceberg.

His new movie, Perfect strangers, starring Mona Zaki, Nadine Labaki and Eyad Nasser, is the first Arabic Netflix Original.

“Just been in Dubai where we held an event, showing the film to a small audience ahead of its Netflix release on the 20th. It’s an honor to be behind the first Arabic original film, especially after serving as director producer of the first Egyptian original series Paranormal.”

Hefzy never stops working. He currently has one film in production and two others planned for the end of the year, which he says will be unveiled either after Berlin or just before the Cannes Film Festival. But first, he has duties as a judge.

The Sundance Film Festival runs from Thursday, January 20 through Sunday, January 30

Updated: January 18, 2022, 9:36 a.m.

Gerald R. Schneider