Project: You Will Die At Twenty

In a Sudanese village, with a deep obsession of Sufi beliefs and saints, a mother gives birth to a boy Muzamel who she has been waiting for, for a very long time. Only for him to come with the so-called Dervish prophecy that he is going to die at the age of twenty!

Photos during the pitching sessions at Maison Des Scenaristes. Photos courtesy of Maison Des Scenaristes.

Director biography
A Sudanese filmmaker who was born and raised in the UAE. He studied Directing at United Arab Emirates University. As a producer and director, Abu Alala has made numerous short films that have been shown at film festivals, including ‘Teena’ (2009), ‘Coffee and Orange’ (2004), and ‘Feathers of the Birds’ (2005), which is considered to mark the return of cinema in Sudan after ten years. His film ‘Studio’ (2012) was supervised by Abbas Kiarostami. In 2013, Abu Alala won the Best Arabic Theater play Award from the Arab Authority for ‘Apple Pies’. As a producer he made many short filmswith new Sudanese and Arab talents, Currently, Abu Alala is
Head of the Programming Committee of the Sudan Independent
Film Festival, and one of Arab Film Institute representatives.

Project: Geranium

Everything changes for high school student Defne when her father has a stroke. Now, she needs to go back to her hometown and confront him, the one person she avoided at all cost.

Director biography
After his graduation from Boğaziçi University in 2007, Cagil Bocutoglu completed his MA studies on Film Production at London Kingston University. While his short film "Arada" was selected for various short film festivals. His experimental work, "Geçmiş", made it to numerous new media festivals such as Magmart (Italy), Videoart (Greece) and AllArtNow. His first documentary focusing on a British musician, Terry St.Clair, was broadcasted on Britain's prestigious Channel 4.
Cagil established the Digital Film & Animation department at SAE Institute Istanbul, part of the world's leading educator in creative media industries, where he would continue his career as Head Instructor between 2010-2013, and give lectures on History of Turkish Cinema & World Cinema, Basic Composition, Visual Language, Camera, Editing, Screenwriting, Production, Copyrights, and Basic Animation. In 2012, Cagil worked as Editing Assistant for acclaimed Iranian director Bahman Ghobadi's feature film "Rhino Season". He has been working as a freelance commercial director and continuing his PhD on Cinema & Television at Marmara University.

Project: Nilou

When the wife and the leading actress of a prominent Iranian filmmaker dies under mysterious circumstances in the middle of the production of his latest film, the director is forced to re-evaluate his life, his relationship, and his work as he learns things he never knew about his wife and himself.

Mehrnoush Aliaghaei is an Iranian filmmaker working between New York and Tehran. She received her MFA in film from Columbia University, and her BA from UC Berkeley. She has produced over a dozen short films and is the writer of three feature scripts.  Scheherazade, a short film that she wrote and directed, screened at over twenty five international film festivals and has won seven awards including Best Short Film at Champs-Elysées Film Festival. She is the co-founder of Maaa Art a film and theater company that develops and distributes works by immigrant artists.  She has written and directed several promotional videos for Maaa Film.  Additionally, she has written and produced two plays for Maaa Theater, which were staged in New York, San Francisco, and Dallas.   

Mahin Sadri (Co-Writer) is a prominent Iranian playwright, director and actress.  Her play, A Bit More Everyday, won the Best Playwright Award at 2014 Tehran International Fadjr Theater Festival.  Three of her plays have been produced and performed at various festivals.  She has also been collaborating with Amir Reza Koohestani, the celebrated Iranian playwright and director for the past decade appearing as the leading actress in a dozen of his plays with over four hundred and fifty international performances including the Avignon and New York’s Under The Radar Festival. 

Project: When I am Done Dying

The story of young and talented rapper Fehmi, set in Istanbul’s slum Sulukule - a neighborhood known for it’s dark and dangerous streets that actually has a a vivid Hip-hop subculture. Fehmi chases his dream of becoming a famous rapper while struggling to maintain a tough relationship with his unlikely lover from the upper class, yet Fehmi’s addiction to the deadly drug bonzai jeopardizes it all.

Director biography
Born and raised in Turkey, Nisan Dağ graduated from Columbia University’s MFA Film Directing Program in 2013 as a Fulbright scholar. The shorts she directed in New York screened at festivals such as Cinequest, Indie Memphis, Thessaloniki and Antalya Film Festival. Her feature film debut ‘Across The Sea’ attended Les Arcs Co-Production Village during development. The film won Best Director at Milan International Film Festival and Audience Award along with Jury Mention at Slamdance Film Festival. At Adana Golden Boll, the film won six awards including Best Director. 'Across the Sea' screened at more than 20 festivals including Warsaw, Raindance and Istanbul Film Festival and had national theatrical release in 2014. Later, Amazon in the US and a major Turkish TV network acquired the film. 
Nisan directed the Turkey episode of the MTV Documentary Series ‘Rebel Music’ at the slum Sulukule, which aired on 2015. She then directed a documentary for Goethe Institut called ‘From Syria to Sulukule’. She’s the co-founder of the feminist filmmaker collective Film Fatales Istanbul. Nisan currently directs commercials and works as a script consultant in the industry. Her second feature ‘Bir Nefes Daha’ will be filmed at Sulukule and it’s currently in development.

Project: Dead Dog

When Farid, a 60-year-old man living abroad, visits his wife Aida for a few days at their Lebanese mountain house, he learns that their 16-year-old dog had died earlier in May and no one had told him about it. Soon, tensions arise as the old dynamics of the couple resurface, and Farid confesses he’s returning home for good. 

Director biography
Sarah grew up in Beirut and graduated from IESAV (Université Saint Joseph, Beirut). Since 2005, she has been working as a freelance director for many regional production companies and has participated in several workshops and labs (Seoul, Copenhagen…). Her feature documentary Birds of September (2013) screened in many international festivals and museums (CPH:dox (Copenhagen), Art of the real (Lincoln Center, New York), Dubai film festival, Stedelik museum (Amsterdam) …) and won 5 awards. Her works include short videos: Nawal’s rituals (Toukous Nawal), a video produced by Ashkal Alwan videoworks 2014; and All the temporary, quick notes on home (2016); she is currently developing a script with the support of Asian cinema fund.

For our 1st edition of Cinephilia Bound Cannes, we have received 113 projects, narrative and documentary, from all corners of the Middle East and North Africa. We are pleased to announce 12 finalist projects that have shown originality in their storytelling and high cinematic quality. 

CINEPHILIA BOUND CANNES - FINALISTS 2017 (in alphabetical order)

Ahmed Al Daradji, Nadia – Iraq
Amjad Abu Alala, You Will Die At Twenty – Sudan
Amr Abdelhadi, The Balcony of Paradise – Jordan
Cagil Bocutoglu, Geranium – Turkey
Christophe Nassif, Club 534 – Lebanon
Dania Bdeir, Star-Crossed – Lebanon
Fateme Ahmadi, You, Me and Leyli – Iran
Hinde Boujemaa, Noura in Wonderland – Tunisia
Houda Lakhdar & Sofia Aissaoui, Belly of Hope – Morocco
Mehrnoush Aliaghaei & Mahin Sadri, Nilou – Iran
Nisan Dag, When I'm Done Dying – Turkey
Sarah Francis, Dead Dog – Lebanon

Maison des Scénaristes is a french non profit organization created in 2011 by authors for authors. The first ever Screenwriters' Pavilion opened at the 2012 film market at Cannes Film Festival. MDS is supported by the SACD and the WGA. Maison Des Scénaristes aims to promote authors, help them deliver their best stories from wherever they come from, select authors with gifts, help them deliver their best and find visibility, offers emulation, artistic and legal support, one-on-one meetings with producers at International Film Festivals like Cannes Film Festival and Clermont-Ferrand Film Festival. MDS welcomes authors in residence programs to help them to improve their scripts with script-consulting and script-doctoring with the best professionals, holding masterclasses with authors who have films in competition at festivals. Since 2012, Maison Des Scénaristes received about 1800 projects, selected 176 of them. So far, 55 authors have signed contracts after pitching at Maison des Scénaristes Authors-Producers meetings.
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