Saturday,24 February, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1136, 21 - 27 February 2013
Saturday,24 February, 2018
Issue 1136, 21 - 27 February 2013

Ahram Weekly

For the love of cartoon

While the sixth round of the Arab Animation Forum opened on the Valentine’s Day, Nevine El-Aref was enjoying the ceremony

Al-Ahram Weekly

At Al-Hanager Theatre on the Cairo Opera House grounds, journalists, photographers and TV anchors gathered around with Minister of Culture Saber Arab, Head of the Cultural Development Fund (CDF) Mohamed Abu Seiada and other officials, intellectuals, artists and well-known animation film directors to inaugurate the sixth round of the Arab Animation Forum (AAF). Six years ago the CDF initiated the AAS in an attempt to develop the art of animation in Egypt and encourage the production of outstanding animated films, providing opportunities for artists, students and specialists in the field to realise their creative ambitions. It also helps artists and other concerned parties in the field to keep up with state-of-the-art technology. This year’s round, inaugurated by Arab, was large as usual, with 78 works produced in 2011 and 2012 by the General Authority of Cultural Palace, the Production Section of Radio and Television Union, the Supreme Institute of Cinema and the Fine Art faculties of Helwan, Menia, Alexandria and New Valley universities. A number of animation production companies and private studios also participated, in addition to five Arab countries (making the event regional for the first time): Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan and the Emirates.
The poster by Tamer Abdala Al-Badri and the ASS logo by Ahmed Emad Sobhy are also new. The poster has a light green and blue background scene with a small drawing featuring two children looking out of a pinkish window and waving to their friends playing happily in the street. At the top  is the name of the event and the number of the AAF round with the logos of the CDF, the Egyptian Animation Society and the Talaat Harb Cultural Institute, as well as the new logo: a big red ball moving around in different directions and getting progressively smaller. 54 out of the 78 works are participating in competitions: debut; short film; long film; series; and creativity. This year the prize winners include Farid Rizkalla, Ahmed Khaled, Amr Shaalan, Mokhtar Mohamed, Amr Adel and Amin Al-Faramawi. During the opening ceremony, Arab and Abu Seiada also honoured comedian Mohamed Heneidy, who played Timon in the Arabic version of The Lion King; animation artists Nawal Mohamed and Raouf Ezzat; director Shewikar Khalifa; and the name of the late artist Zeinab Ismail. During the week long forum, all the works were screened in three venues: the Talaat Harb Cultural Institute, downtown; the Beit Al-Eini Institute; and the Creativity Institute at Al-Amir Taz Palace in the neighbourhood of Al-Sayeda Zeinab.
“This is a really special round because it transferred the AAF from being a local event that depends on Egyptian animation artists to a regional and Arab forum,” Abu Seiada told Al-Ahram Weekly. “The art of animation is facing a great challenge and we have to pay more attention to it in order to develop Egypt’s industry and to live up to the competion abroad.”
Journalist Kamilia Atris, a member in the forum planning committee, told the Weekly that this year’s forum is totally different from previous rounds not only because of the Arab countries’ participation but also due the effective organization of the event and the quality of the participating works: “Although the production of animation films was too little this year it displays a very high quality of films and series,” she asserted. Atris pointed out that she is sad because of the decline of animation production in Egyptian TV, which had contributed much to the forum in previous rounds. “The technical, artistic and intellectual levels of the work were too low,” she explained. “But at the same time, students of fine art faculties have astonished the jury and organisers with their magnificent productions.” Atris called on the General Authority of Cultural Palaces to resume its animation production because “it is a great loss to close it and be out of service. This department was one of the best organisations for animation production.”
Atris explains that this round includes several that aim to encourage positive attitudes among the citizens of Egypt — such as preserving water and keeping the streets clean. She told the Weekly how, at one of the seminars held for school children in Talaat Harb Cultural Institue, 12-year-old Ahmed Sheta told her he liked this kind of animation film better than Disney because he felt as if it was made for him, speaking the same language and reflecting the same culture. A seven-years-old pupil, Ali El-Sayed, said he liked such films because they helped him to learn more about his country and how to help in developing it. “From now on I will never let the water run,” he said.

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