As part of Egypt’s National AIDS Campaign 2015, The Joint United National Program on HIV/AIDS in collaboration with The National AIDS Program (MoHP), supported the MAHD Film Lab for film and script development, with the aim of using art to raise awareness and destigmatise HIV and AIDS especially among youth.
MAHD Film Lab is a professional script development program, which took place in Cairo from Mid-February to Mid-May 2016 with the aim of helping filmmakers develop the best possible script for either a short or a feature film. This year’s film lab workshop has been addressing HIV aiming to spread awareness and reduce stigma and discrimination.
During the program’s current year, eight film projects have been developed. In MAHD Film Lab closing event, the eight writers and directors pitched their projects to the invited producers, financiers and directors. The projects vary from thrillers to social dramas and from shorts to features.
The event’s purpose is to offer the participants an opportunity to pitch their scripts in front of a panel of producers, financiers, buyers, and distributors. Moreover, couple of production prizes, offered by UNAIDS and Rahala for Production and Distribution, were awarded for the financial support of the projects.
Dr. Ahmed Khamis, UNAIDS Egypt Country Manager, addressed the attendees “UNAIDS supports Art for development and we believe that through cinema we can help effect major change on people’s views of HIV and AIDS and motivate young people to protect themselves . We are glad to see work developed addressed stigma and promoted tolerance and we wish to see the projects continue to production and screening”. Ayman El Amir, MAHD Film Lab Director and Head Tutor added, “MAHD Film Lab tries to foresee the future as it is treading new ground when it comes to the Egyptian film industry. Today there is a growing need at festivals for a “market for projects”, and not just for finished products. That is why MAHD Film Lab could be considered as an incubator for the promotion of new film projects and new productions, and co-productions.”
At the end of the event, two short film projects were awarded prizes to support their production and post-production. A financial award offered by UNAIDS was awarded to the project (Sunrise) by the screenwriter, Dina George. Another post-production prize, by RAHALA for production and distribution, was awarded to the project (3 Nights) by the screenwriter, Nada Ahmed.
The event is a part of Egypt’s National AIDS campaign and has enjoyed the support of UN organizations addressing HIV in Egypt. World AIDS Day is marked with the theme of “Ending AIDS by 2030”, which refers to the global target for achieving zero new infections, zero AIDS-related deaths and zero discrimination by 2030.