The United States participates in the Aswan Festival to support and enhance the creative expression of filmmakers

By Manal Abdel Fattah

The Aswan International Women’s Film Festival is cooperating with Film Independent, in partnership with the US Embassy in Cairo, to produce a four-day workshop, from April 20 to 24, under the supervision of two American filmmakers. Speaks and Kelly Thomas.

According to a statement issued by the US Embassy in Cairo, the workshop will be part of the Aswan International Women’s Film Festival and aims to support and enhance the creative expression of Egyptian filmmakers through short films.

This workshop is open to emerging female filmmakers from Aswan and the surrounding governorates who have an idea for a short film, as 70% of the participants are female filmmakers from Aswan and the governorates of Upper Egypt.

On April 24, the participants will be celebrated after the end of the workshop by handing them certificates. On April 25, the American Embassy in Cairo will present up to three awards to Egyptian female filmmakers, either for a feature film in development or a documentary film in post-production at the festival. Aswan International Women’s Cinema.

The winners will travel to Los Angeles – Hollywood, to attend a week of programs on empowering filmmakers by providing them with the tools, communications, and guidance necessary to complete their artistic projects that are under development with specialists in the Hollywood film industry. They will receive an organized tour of the “Academy Museum.” They will also receive… On the independent “Pro Film” membership.

Avril Speaks, a producer and director, has blazed a trail as a bold and innovative storyteller for years, not only as a producer and director but also during her days as a professor at Howard University and as a film educator through Film Independent and the Sundance Institute.

Avril has produced several award-winning films, including Jinn, which premiered at the South by South West festival and received a Special Jury Mention for Writing, and African America, which was nominated for an NAACP Image Award and four Academy Awards. African Movies and is streamed on Netflix. She also produced the project Black America Is… which premiered at the Africana Film Festival and won Best Documentary Feature at the Baltimore International Film Festival.

Her latest film, Dotty & Soul, starring Leslie Uggams, David Koechner and Gary Owens, is broadcast on Showtime.

As a director and showrunner, Avril has worked with companies such as Now This and Vox Media Studios on docuseries such as Uprooted: The Untold Keith Warren Story, Keep This Between Us, and the upcoming Unexplained podcast that will stream on Netflix.

Avril is a recipient of the Sundance Momentum Fellowship and was recently awarded the Film Independent Amplifier Fellowship. She is a founding member of Distribution Advocates and the newly formed Producers Union, and is a board member of the Black TV and Film Collective.

Kelly Thomas is an independent producer, writer and educator who has produced nine feature films, the most recent of which, Louder Than You Think, premiered at the 2023 South by South West Film Festival where it won the Audience Award.

Thomas received a 2017 Film Independent Spirit Award as a producer of Andrew Ahn’s Spa Night, a film that premiered in dramatic competition at Sundance and has screened at festivals around the world.

Thomas’ other producing credits include acclaimed films, and directors include Rodrigo Garcia, Phaedon Papamichael, Robin Swicord, and Brad Silberling.

Previously, Thomas was a resident producer for Film Independent’s artist development programs, where she produced branded entertainment for Vanity Fair and Lincoln Motors and ran managed labs for writers, directors, producers and documentary filmmakers.

In addition to producing, Thomas serves as an adjunct faculty member in the Study Away Program at Temple University in Los Angeles, is a member of the Producers Guild of America and a mentor for Film Independent’s Global.

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