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CYPRUS FILM DAYS 2024 Industry Days / Premios

The Sea Was Once Blue triunfa en los Industry Days


- El proyecto egipcio dirigido por Mohamad El-Hadidi ha sido elegido como el mejor de los ocho presentados en el evento; Shibboleth, Sun in Saturn y Μοther Tongue, también premiados

The Sea Was Once Blue triunfa en los Industry Days
El director Mohamad El-Hadidi (derecha) con su premio

Este artículo está disponible en inglés.

The fifth edition of the Industry Days co-production and networking platform took place from 19-20 April during the 22nd Cyprus Film Days International Festival, in the country’s second-biggest city, Limassol. The event, overseen by Danae Stylianou, head of, saw significant growth, attracting over 150 film professionals from 20 different countries to Cyprus. Stylianou also announced a new partnership between and Coprocity, which sees them joining forces with 19 other leading co-production markets. Starting this year, all projects presented at the co-production forum will be eligible for the Coprocity Development Award, valued at €3,500, in collaboration with Cineuropa - a prize that will be handed out at the end of the year.

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During the pitching session, the eight projects (see the news) were presented by their respective producers and directors. The jury, composed of three producers – Cécile Tollu-Polonowski (The Match Factory, Germany/France), Yorgos Tsourgiannis (Horsefly Films, Greece) and Anita Elsani (Elsani & Neary Media GmbH, Germany) – decided to present the Cyprus Film Commission – Invest Cyprus Award to Berlin-based Egyptian filmmaker Mohamad El-Hadidi for his latest project, The Sea Was Once Blue. The jury commended the film for “depicting the struggle of freeing oneself from a dysfunctional relationship – a poignant love story set in Alexandria, presented in the mumblecore style”. The award includes a €1,000 monetary prize.

The story, co-penned by El-Hadidi and Mohamed Elmasry, depicts Reem and Osama's last night together in post-revolution Egypt, where Reem, struggling with depression, contemplates suicide. Their encounter with an outsider challenges Reem's plans, leading to a confrontation with Osama, revealing underlying tensions in their relationship. The director's statement reflects on personal experiences during the 2011 revolution and his subsequent trauma, exploring themes of lost hope, depression and the impact of political events on individual lives. Drawing inspiration from personal struggles and influences, such as Wadih Saadeh's poetry and the writings of René Crevel, the director aims to shed light on the complexities of mental health and the aftermath of political turmoil. The film serves as a reflection on survival and the longing for freedom amidst despair, resonating with a generation grappling with the weight of history. The Sea Was Once Blue is being produced by El-Hadidi and Julian Moser for Chatby Films and Moser film.

The project Shibboleth, written and directed by Alexandra Matheou from Cyprus, received the PS Movies and Stories Award. The prize was granted to it “for inviting us into a surreal and eerie playground, raising the question of whether life would become easier if death was not a part of it”. The PS Movies and Stories Award includes lighting and grip equipment rental valued at up to €4,000, courtesy of PS Movies & Stories Cinema Equipment Rental Ltd.

In Shibboleth, Mary, a 35-year-old surrogate mother, finds herself entangled in a complex relationship with Nora and Lena, the couple expecting her child. As she grows closer to them during a summer holiday, unsettling discoveries about their intentions emerge. The film delves into moral dilemmas surrounding motherhood and the certainty of death, set against a backdrop where Death seems temporarily defeated. The director aims to explore themes of existential angst, manipulation and societal commodification through unconventional characters and allegorical storytelling. Mary's journey challenges traditional representations of surrogacy and prompts reflections on the commodification of human experiences. The film aspires to be audacious and original, blending poeticism with absurdist elements while inviting existential contemplation about the nature of existence and the significance of mortality. The film is being produced by Tonia Mishiali for Nicosia-based Bark Like a Cat Films, in co-production with Maria Drandaki (Homemade Films), Soyo Giaoui and Marrion Barré (La Cellule Productions).

Portuguese filmmaker Ary Zara received the Best Debut Project Pitch Award for Sun in Saturn. The prize was granted to “a character-driven narrative that delves into themes of gender identity, intergenerational perspectives on time and life, tradition, sexuality, love, and grief”. The Best Debut Project Pitch Award includes a monetary prize of €500, provided by the Directors Guild of Cyprus.

Sun in Saturn follows Sol, a transgender man, who visits his mother, Helena, in Portugal after two years with his girlfriend Sarah. As Sol grapples with his transition's impact on his relationships, Helena navigates her own emotions while caring for her ageing father, Adriano. When Adriano disappears on a final road trip, Sol and Helena embark on a search, leading to a poignant exploration of identity, love and familial expectations amidst grief and doubt. The director's vision emphasises positive transgender portrayals and intergenerational dynamics, aiming to transcend labels and prompt deeper reflections on identity. The film, set in North Portugal, delves into themes of tradition, sexuality and acceptance, with a narrative enriched by complex character dynamics. The director seeks to authentically portray Portuguese culture while resonating with diverse audiences, challenging stereotypes, and promoting the universality of identity with all its fluidity and evolutions. The project is being produced by Andreia Nunes for Wonder Maria Filmes.

Finally, the Agora Networking Award, provided by the Thessaloniki International Film Festival, was awarded to producer Claudia Canfora from Italy's Parallelo 41 Produzioni for the project Mother Tongue, directed by Caterina Biasiucci. The award includes accommodation and a free market accreditation. The jury praised it as “the portrait of a young girl reclaiming her lost childhood whilst preparing for motherhood. A project celebrating life but set in a cemetery.”

Mother Tongue, co-penned by Biasiucci and Bruno Oliviero, follows 16-year-old Rosaria, who is pregnant and ostracised by her family, as she finds solace with her best friend's family in a cemetery near Naples. Amidst the graves, Rosaria rediscovers her lost childhood while preparing for motherhood. The film explores themes of life, growth and our perceptions of death, juxtaposing the vitality of youth against the backdrop of mortality. The director's adaptation of Piera Ventre's novel emphasises the contrast between life and death, as Rosaria brings life into a place of final rest. Set in the 1980s but with a timeless quality, the film portrays archetypal characters navigating complex relationships and rites of passage. Blending realism with surreal elements, it delves into the essence of existence, and the cyclical nature of life and death. The film is being produced by Antonella Di Nocera and Claudia Canfora (Parallelo 41 Produzioni), in co-production with Anda Ionescu for Romania’s Tangaj Film.

Here is the list of winners at the fifth Industry Days:

Cyprus Film Commission – Invest Cyprus Award
The Sea Was Once Blue - Mohamad El-Hadidi (Egypt/Germany)
Producers: Mohamad El-Hadidi (Chatby Films), Julian Moser (moser film)

PS Movies and Stories Award
Shibboleth - Alexandra Matheou (Cyprus/Greece/France)
Producer: Tonia Mishiali (Bark Like a Cat Films)
Co-producers: Maria Drandaki (Homemade Films), Soyo Giaoui, Marrion Barré (La Cellule Productions)

Best Debut Project Pitch Award
Sun in Saturn - Ary Zara (Portugal)
Producer: Andreia Nunes (Wonder Maria Filmes)

Agora Networking Award
Μοther Tongue - Caterina Biasiucci (Italy/Romania)
Producers: Antonella Di Nocera, Claudia Canfora (Parallelo 41 Produzioni)
Co-producer: Anda Ionescu (Tangaj Film)

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(Traducción del inglés)

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