Locarno's Doors opens to 13 projects

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ROME -- The Open Doors co-production lab at the Locarno International Film Festival will focus on the Near and Middle East, with 13 projects selected from 120 entries, organizers said Tuesday.

The lab -- which seeks to connect filmmakers with co-production partners and other financing and technical help -- will take place Aug. 5-8, near the halfway point of the Aug. 1-11 festival.

"The overall high standard made it difficult but fascinating to select the projects," Frederic Maire, Locarno's artistic director, said in a statement. "The 13 selected projects include four documentaries and four first feature films. Alongside young filmmakers, we are delighted to have a film by a master of Egyptian cinema, Daoud Abd El-Sayed."

El-Sayed's drama "Messages from the Sea" is one of two Egyptian films in the lineup, alongside "Harag we Marag" from Nadine Khan.

The most-represented country in the program is Lebanon, with four: "Halal" by Assad Fouladkar, Mai Masri's "Eye of the Phoenix," "The One-Man Village" from Simon El Habre'd and "I Can't Go Home" by Khalil Joreige and Joana Hadjithomas.

Israel was the next best represented country -- with "Justice Must Be Seen" from Ra'anan Alexandrowicz, Sameh Zoabi's "Man Without a Cell Phone" and "Tanathor" by Tawfik Abu-Wael -- while Syria had two: Hala Alabdalla's "He! N'oublie pas le Cumin" and Meyar Al-Roumi's "Le Chemin des Figuiers." The final selection is "Fix Me" from Palestinian director Raed Andoni.

"We were struck by the diversity and power of the subject matter of the projects submitted," Open Doors project manager Vincenzo Bugno said in a statement.

Open Doors is organized with support from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation of the Swiss Foreign Ministry.

At the end of the workshop, two grants of 50,000 Swiss francs ($41,000) each are jointly allocated by the Locarno Festival and "visions sud est," a Swiss production support fund. A further sum of €10,000 ($13,500) is allocated by France's Center National de la Cinematographie to support the development of a first feature film.
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