‘Cotton Queen,’ ‘Lamp in the Dark’ Among Top Prize Winners at Cairo Film Connection
21st November 2022

The Cairo Film Festival’s Cairo Film Connection co-production market spread the love at an award ceremony Sunday night, with 15 projects claiming 20 prizes in the Egyptian capital valued at some $225,000.

Among the standouts were Suzannah Mirghani’s “Cotton Queen” and “Lamp in the Dark,” from Sudanese filmmaker Mahdi El-Tayeb, which both took home awards from marketing and distribution outfit MAD Solutions for distribution in the Arab world with a $50,000 minimum guarantee.

Set in a cotton-farming village in Sudan, “Cotton Queen” — which won the ArteKino Award at the Cannes Film Festival’s L’Atelier this year — follows a teenage girl as she begins to question cultural expectations and the collapsing cotton industry, under threat from both insect and human pests. “Lamp in the Dark” turns on a generational clash in a Sudanese village after the arrival of a mobile cinema.

No film won more than two prizes, with Amjad Al Rasheed’s “Inshallah a Boy” (pictured) continuing its winning streak just days after the film was awarded a $25,000 Atlas Workshops post-production grant at the Marrakech Film Festival. The director’s debut, which took the top prize at Venice Final Cut this year and scored prizes at the El Gouna and Fribourg festivals, won a DCP package equivalent to $10,000 from The Cell and a $10,000 cash award from RISE Studios.

Other dual prize winners include “Bad Friend” (Egypt), a social drama by Ahmed El Ghoneimy about an upper-middle-class family in Alexandria whose lives are turned upside-down after the disappearance of their matriarch; “Over Three Days” (Egypt), from Tamer Ashry, an off-beat comedy about a woman who’s given a three-day ultimatum to decide if she wants to remain with her husband; Mariam Al-Dhubani’s “Let’s Play Soldiers” (Yemen, Qatar, U.S.), which follows a Yemeni child soldier trying to build a better life for his family; and “A Butterfly Hug” (Egypt, Sudan), from director Sally Abo Basha, which follows two young Cairenes who are struggling to make a short film despite the illnesses they suffer from.

The 9th edition of the Cairo Film Connection was the first under new head Lynda Belkhiria. Along with a host of sponsor prizes, awards were decided by a jury that included Berlin Intl. Film Festival managing director Mariette Rissenbeek, Egyptian filmmaker and curator Viola Shafik, and Tunisian director Raja Amari.

The Cairo Intl. Film Festival runs Nov. 13 – 22.

AH Media Productions — $10,000 cash award

“The Last Man” (Egypt, Brazil)
Director: Muhammad Salah
Producers: Mark Lotfy, Rodrigo Brum

Best Media Production $10,000 cash award

“Theft of Fire” (Palestine, Canada)
Director: Amer Shomali
Producer: Rashid Abdelhamid

Red Sea Intl. Film Festival $10,000 cash award for a project in post-production

“Red Path” (Tunisia, France, Belgium, Poland, Qatar, Saudi Arabia)
Director: Lotfi Achour
Producers: Anissa Daoud, Sébastien Hussenot

Creative Media Solution — promotional package of teaser and trailer equivalent to $10,000

“My Dad’s a Farmer” (Algeria)
Director/producer: El Kheyer Zidani

Banque Misr $10,000 cash award

“Bad Friend” (Egypt)
Director/producer: Ahmed El Ghoneimy

Sard — $5,000 cash award

“Searching for Woody” (Egypt)
Director: Sara Shazli
Producer: Marianne Khoury

Sard — script doctoring for a feature fiction or documentary project in development

“Hala’s Aziz” (Saudi Arabia)
Director: Jawaher Alamri
Producer: Mohammed Sindi

Travellers Media Production $10,000 cash award

“Bella” (Morocco)
Director/producer: Mohcine Besri

Lagoonie $5,000 cash award

“Over Three Days” (Egypt)
Director: Tamer Ashry
Producer: Baho Bakhsh

The Cell — DCP package for a project in post-production equivalent to $10,000

“Inshallah a Boy” (Jordan)
Director: Amjad Al Rasheed
Producers: Rula Nasser, Aseel Abuayyash

The Cell — promotional package of teaser and trailer equivalent to $15,000

“The Seasons of Jannet” (Tunisia)
Director: Mehdi Hmili
Producer: Moufida Fadhila

Raweyat — pitching mentorship training

“Let’s Play Soldiers” (Yemen, Qatar, U.S.)
Director: Mariam Al-Dhubani
Producer: Mohammed Al-Jaberi

RISE Studios — $10,000 cash award

“Inshallah a Boy” (Jordan)
Director: Amjad Al Rasheed
Producers: Rula Nasser, Aseel Abuayyash

Synergy Films — $10,000 cash award

“A Butterfly Hug” (Egypt, Sudan)
Director: Sally Abo Basha
Producer: Talal Afifi

ART (Arab Radio and Television Network) — $10,000 cash award

“Over Three Days” (Egypt)
Director: Tamer Ashry
Producer: Baho Bakhsh

MAD Solutions — distribution and marketing in Arab world with $50,000 minimum guarantee

“Cotton Queen” (Germany, France, Palestine)
Director: Suzannah Mirghani
Producers: Annemarie Jacir, Caroline Daube

“Lamp in the Dark” (Sudan)
Director/producer: Mahdi El-Tayeb

Arab Cinema Center — invitation for an Arab producer to attend the Rotterdam Lab during the 2023 Rotterdam Intl. Film Festival

“Let’s Play Soldiers” (Yemen, Qatar, U.S.)
Director: Mariam Al-Dhubani
Producer: Mohammed Al-Jaberi

Film Independent — award to a fiction project in development

“A Butterfly Hug” (Egypt, Sudan)
Director: Sally Abo Basha
Producer: Talal Afifi

Film Independent — award to a documentary project in development

“Bad Friend” (Egypt)
Director/producer: Ahmed El Ghoneimy

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