ÉCU – The European Independent Film Festival is highlighting six independent Arab filmmakers during this year’s festival who will be competing for The Ahmed Khedr Award for Excellence in Arab Filmmaking. Also featured in the Official Selection of New York Film Festival “Things I heard on Wednesdays”, directed by Abu Bakr Shawky is one of the six Arabic filmmakers who have been selected for the ÉCU Official Arabic Section. In an interview with ÉCU, Abu Bakr Shawky shared his thoughts about his film and the Independent Arabic filmmakers.

What drove you to start making your own independent film?
I am studying at NYU and we had an assignment to make a short movie. Two weeks before, my grandfather passed away and this inspired me to make a film about my family. My family used to meet up at my grandfather’s place every Wednesday to come together and during these meetings, many stories were told. These gatherings on Wednesdays stopped when my grandfather passed away. Afterwards, I realized that the history of my family involved a lot of political events. Making the film was really fast. It took me 3 to 4 days to finish the film. I basically called up all my relatives for pictures and stories and started making the film.

“Things I heard on Wednesdays” also tells the viewer a lot of the history of Egypt. How were you able to obtain the footage?
Much of the footage you see in the film was shot by myself during the revolution. My family kept a lot of pictures which I used in the film. Since my film is not aiming to make any profit, I was also able to use footage of different news channels.

Was there a special reason why you submitted your film to ÉCU 2013?
I came across ÉCU – The European Independent Film Festival on Withoutabox and I remembered my friend telling me about the festival before. ÉCU is a great opportunity for me to distribute my film internationally. ÉCU is known to have a very diverse program with films from all around the world. I especially liked the fact that this year ÉCU has the special section to support Arab filmmakers. Additionally, film festivals are very important for filmmakers. Even more for independent filmmakers. What are the other ways to get your film out with zero budget?

Why is it important to support Arab filmmakers?
It really important for Arab filmmakers to get support as it is really difficult for filmmakers, especially independent filmmakers, to get financed. The Arab world is an interesting part of the world and, for many people, still unknown. I noticed that more film festival nowadays are featuring Arabic films as people get more interested in the culture and its history. However, unfortunately Arabic films are still under represented.

What are your future plans?
I am planning to move back to Egypt and work on developing a feature film project that will be part of my NYU Thesis

Are you coming to ÉCU 2013 in Paris?
I definitely would like to come, I will try my best to be there the 29th, 30th and 31st of March!

Things I heard on Wednesdays (Trailer)
A film by Abu Bakr Shawky, Egypt.

“Things I Heard on Wednesdays” is a chronicle of Egypt’s modern history through the eyes of one middle-class family.

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