Vying within The International Competition of Freedom Films Section
The Dream of Shahrazad Selected for MENA Premiere at Luxor African Film Festival
Francois Verster's documentary The Dream of Shahrazad will land its MENA Premiere on Friday, March 20th, 2015, at the 4th Luxor African Film Festival (LAFF), which runs from 16 - 21 March, 2015. Contending against 10 films from across Africa, The Dream of Shahrazad vies for awards at The International Competition of Freedom Films. Inspired by the exotic tales of the 1001 Nights (aka Arabian Nights), the film explores aspects of artistic creativity in Egypt and Turkey amid the cyclones of change before, during and after the Arab Spring in the face of social and political oppression.
The LAFF is held under the auspices of Independent Shabab Foundation (ISF), a non-profit organization registered at the Ministry of Social Solidarity and active since 2006 in several fields. Regarded as a one of the key ISF's projects, the first edition of the LAFF was launched in 2012. The festival aims to support and encourage African film productions and partnerships between the countries of the continent through strengthening the humanitarian and political ties between the peoples of Africa in general and African artists in particular.
Francois Verster's documentary, The Dream of Shahrazad, had its World Premiere within the Masters programme of the 27th International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) last November. This section assembles works by the cream of the crop of the world's documentary film auteurs.
The Dream of Shahrazad traces the recent developments on the political and social levels in Egypt and Turkey in an unusually captivating way. Greatly inspired by the exotically famed story collection of 1001 Nights (aka Arabian Nights), the film merges music with political content and deploys the illustrious character of Shahrazad as a metaphor to explore how creativity and political articulation can coincide as a sharp weapon against oppression. The film features an array of individuals from different backgrounds including a Turkish youth orchestra conductor who uses Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade suite as a tool for political education; a young Lebanese actress who reconciles her past by becoming an internet activist in Egypt; an older visual artist who finds his "dream of Shahrazad" in the appearance of a beautiful young storyteller; and an Alexandrian storyteller who meets with the mothers of martyrs of the Revolution and turns their testimonies into new storytelling performances.
Development on the film started in 2006 and filming took place over the course of two years- between 2010 and 2012 - before, during and after the Arab Spring.
The Dream of Shahrazad was largely self-funded and further funding contributions were received from the South African National Film & Video Foundation, the IDFA/Bertha Fund, the Sundance Documentary Fund, Spier Films, the CBA Worldview Fund, the Netherlands Film Fund, the European Union and Afri Docs.
Produced by Verster in collaboration with Wael Omar of Middlewest Films; Shameela Seedat of Undercurrent Film and Television; Neil Brandt of Fireworx Media, the film was also co-produced by Fleur Knopperts and Denis Vaslin of Volya Films (Netherlands); Lucas Rosant of Melia Films (France); Serene Huleileh and Reem Abu Kishek of the Hakaya Regional Network (Jordan(.
Francois Verster is an Emmy-award winning documentary filmmaker with an extensively know-how background in the fields of literature, music and cinema. Born in 1969 in South Africa, Verster holds a Master's Degree in Literature from the University of Cape Town. He then took part in a number of independent feature-length film productions before making his documentary debut, both as a director and a producer, Pavement Aristocrats (1998), which received an Avanti Award. Verster's extensive repertoire further includes A Lion's Trail (2002); received the Emmy Award in 2006, When The War is Over (2002), The Mothers' House(2006) and Sea Point Days (2009).
Screening Venue of The Dream of Shahrazad at Luxor African Film Festival:
Friday, March 20th, 2015, at 04:00 pm (GMT+2) at the Main Hall, Luxor Library