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REPORT: Cinemed Meetings 2017

by Fabien Lemercier

(© Festival Cinemed)

Tomorrow sees the start of the Cinemed Meetings, three days of professional meetings organised as part of the 39th Montpellier Mediterranean Film Festival.

Standing out on the menu is the 27th edition of the Development Aid Grant, which has so far lent its support to 80 feature-length projects since 1991. This year, the 15 fiction feature projects selected will be presented by their directors and producers to a jury chaired by Georges Goldenstern (head of the Cannes Film Festival’s Cinéfondation), who will be flanked by French producers Marianne Dumoulin (JBA Production) and Dominique Welinski (DW Production), their Lebanese counterpart Jad Abi-Khalil and director Olivier Jahan. Two Development Aid Grants will be handed out, courtesy of the CNC and the Occitanie region, with the support of Titra Films, Anaphi Studio and French Kiss Productions. Two writing residencies at the Le Moulin d’Andé Centre for Film Writing and the Mediterranean Film Institute (MFI – Greece) are also up for grabs. Interestingly, this array of professional events also includes the third iteration of the "From Short to Feature" scheme, with nine feature-debut projects (helmed by filmmakers who have a short film in competition at Montpellier this year) set to be weighed up by a jury, the second edition of "Talents in Short", plus many one-to-one rendezvous between those coming along with their projects and the professionals in attendance.

The projects duking it out for the Development Aid Grant are the following:

Le Christ recrucifié - Théo Papadoulakis (Greece)
Production: Ionna Davi for Indigo View Productions
With half of humanity eliminated after a global pandemic, a small religious community survives on an isolated Greek island governed by a foreign ruler. Manolis, a 20-year-old shepherd, is chosen by the elite to take on the role of Jesus Christ in the upcoming Passion Play. The preparations for Easter are disrupted when a boatload of Greek refugees arrives and they are denied asylum by their compatriots. Manolis, inspired by his role as Jesus, decides to protect them and stand up to the local authorities.

La Dernière reine - Damien Ounouri (Algeria/France/Italy/Kuwait/Germany/Malta/Norway/Qatar)
Production: Adila Bendimerad for Taj Intaj
The year is 1516. Algiers, then a small Arab-Berber republic, is suffocating because of the occupation by the Spaniards, who have been in control of the port for six years. King Salim Toumi forms an alliance with the pirate Barbarossa to liberate the city. After the victory, Salim is found dead in his bath. Barbarossa becomes the new master of Algiers and is forced to deal with rebellion. History and legend also tell that Salim Toumi, the last King of Algiers, had a wife named Zaphira, whom Aroudj Barbarossa allegedly coveted. Barbarossa supposedly said: "I will take his palace, and I will ride his horse and his wife."

Dieu reconnaîtra les siens - Hassan Legzouli (France/Morocco)
Production: Lionel Guedj for To Be Continued
After spending ten years in the “international Islamism system”, which led him from France to London via Bosnia and Afghanistan, Hamid, in his thirties, comes back to his home town in Northern France. Everybody had thought he was dead, and he does not want this to change, particularly for his family. But he can’t refrain from seeing Rafiq, his little brother.

Figuras - Azra Okyay (Turkey/France)
Production: Marie-Pierre Macia and Selin Karli for MPM Film
Amidst the chaos of Istanbul, six different stories intertwine simultaneously within various different social classes in the city. The characters come up against social and political problems as they try to live a normal life in spite of the overwhelming atmosphere of paranoia and anxiety. They are forced to come up with their own solutions. A major power cut plunges the city into darkness: the sound of helicopters gets louder and louder in this city in the midst of a state of emergency.

Haunted by City Lights - Stratis Chatzielenoudas (France/Greece/Albania)
Production: Cédric Courtoux for Les Films de l’Heure Bleue
Haunted by City Lights is a science-fiction drama. In the dystopian world of the near future, the story unfolds in Athens through three journeys undertaken by characters who break the prevailing rules of interaction.

Le Jouet - Kudret Gunes (France/Turkey/Iraqi Kurdistan)
Production: Ali Gül Dönmez for Cinemorphose Productions
A little French girl settles with her parents in the mountains of Turkish Kurdistan, in her grandmother’s home. There, she discovers a grenade hidden in the ground, which she mistakes for a toy. She transforms it into a doll adorned with multi-coloured fabrics. Rather than going to school, she leaves in search of her missing father, who has been arrested by the police. She scours the town of Urfa. With each silhouette of a man she sees, she believes she recognises him, but instead, she discovers only the suffering of the inhabitants and the refugees in this area, today part of Turkey.

Margherita - Valentina Carnelutti (Italy/France/Belgium)
Production: Marco Alessi for Dugong Films
Margherita is a lonesome 14-year-old who finds love in the arms of an adult. Her father’s madness and her mother’s selfishness encourage her to nurture it and give up her own world. She is in search of a limit that nobody will impose on her. She confuses sex with violence and affection. Like a chameleon, she adapts until she feels invisible. Sketch by sketch, she draws a bridge between childhood and abuse, dreams and salvation.

La Mariée du mort - Corneliu Gheorghita (France/Romania)
Production: sc Gheorghita srl
A French film unit settles in a Romanian village to film a documentary series. While the filming of the first few episodes on the traditions of baptism and marriage goes without a hitch, it is quite the opposite when it comes to the funeral, as no one decides to die. So the team chooses to stage it, involving highly superstitious villagers in their macabre game.

Même les ânes ont des remords - Shirin Abu Shaqra (Lebanon)
Production: Myriam Sassine for Abbout Productions
Mount Lebanon, the 19th century. As political and religious repression rages all around, 25-year-old intellectual Fares al Shidyaq loses his father and brother. Fearing for his own fate, he seeks refuge with Protestant missionaries in Beirut before fleeing the country altogether. Using his pen as a sword, he embarks on a journey from Cairo to Malta, passing through Cambridge and Paris, until he finally ends up in Constantinople.

Merzouga - Rémi Bassaler (France/Morocco)
Production: Paul Lavaud for Fase Films
Camille is a 35-year-old French woman who seems to have everything she needs to be happy. Being an ambitious lawyer and a dedicated mother, she succeeds on every level. However, during an impromptu trip to Morocco with her family, Camille will gradually lose all her bearings. After an emotional encounter with an old woman born in the Sahara, Camille will progressively isolate herself from her family. Deciding not to come back to France with her husband and daughters, Camille will have only one goal: to see the Sahara Desert.

Nuée Ardente - Raphaël Neal (France/Italy)
Production: Camille Genaud for Paraiso Production
Eric, 27, feels hotter and hotter, and his muscles feel as if they are on fire. He has been diagnosed with a rare disease that he is told will lead to total body paralysis within a year or two. Despite the support of friends and family, he decides to embark on a solitary road trip towards Mount Etna, which is threatening the nearby area with a cataclysmic eruption…

Où ai-je laissé mon visage ? - Ramzi Maqdisi (Palestine/France)
Production: Iyas Jubeh for Quds Art
Ramzi, a native of Jerusalem, lives in Paris with Julie, his girlfriend. After a long period away, Ramzi must go back to Jerusalem to renew his ID papers and visit his family. But the family house has been partially destroyed on the orders of the local authorities. His grandmother can’t handle the shock and dies. Then, Ramzi is overwhelmed by family memories from when he was six years old and was mute. He goes back to Paris, but no sooner has he arrived, his passport is stolen. His relationship with Julie ends. She wants a child, but he doesn’t. Back in Jerusalem, he attends his brother’s wedding, but his house will also be destroyed.

Plus longue sera la nuit - Latifa Said (Algeria/France)
Production: Richard Djoudi for Show Guest Entertainment
Zina finds out that the Algerian government is going to give compensation to the female victims of rape during the civil war. After thinking long and hard, she decides to go back to Algeria with her son, Réda. There, she gets her compensation and makes peace with some of her family, but her older brother, annoyed at her return, reveals the secret about the birth of her son. In brutal fashion, Réda finds out that he is the result of a rape and flees.

La Reconquête - Lucia Sanchez (France/Spain)
Production: Julie Paratian for Sister Productions
Nathalie, a French teacher and devoted mother in her early forties, is at the end of her tether. The humdrum routine of her marriage is breaking her. In a spur-of-the-moment decision, she opts for a week of self-indulgence in Benidorm, southern Spain, with Carole, the exuberant zumba instructor she’s just met. But then her husband shows up at this low-cost, all-inclusive tourist venue, with their two kids in tow, hoping the “surprise” will help patch things up so they can get back to how they were before…

Zuhal - Nazli Elif Durlu (Turkey)
Production: Anna Maria Aslanoglu for Istos Film
In Istanbul, a city on high security alert, Zuhal struggles with her daily routine. Her day becomes complicated when she hears a cat mewing and realises no one else does.

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