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Talent-spotting initiative ‘Arab Stars of Tomorrow’ announced

Screen International has announced six of the most talented and promising actors and directors from across the Middle East and North Africa who have been selected for its talent-spotting initiative ‘Arab Stars of Tomorrow’.


The fourth edition which was unveiled during the Festival’s successful industry arm ‘Cairo Industry Days’ is supported by MBC Hope, a social responsibility initiative for The MBC Group that focuses on empowering Arab youth and preparing them for a better future.


The ‘Arab Stars of Tomorrow’ have been curated and selected by Screen International’s Middle East correspondent Melanie Goodfellow, with input from Editor Matt and Finn Halligan, Chief Critic and Reviews editor.


For ‘Arab Stars of Tomorrow’, Screen International shortlisted six actors and directors who have already made a significant impact in their field with the promise of much more to come.


Acclaimed Egyptian filmmaker Sameh Alaa began honing his craft as an assistant director in advertising and feature films. In 2016, he finished his MA in filmmaking at the prestigious EICAR film school in Paris. Sameh’s first short film ‘Fifteen’ premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2017 and went onto win several international awards. Sameh most recently made history by becoming the first Egyptian filmmaker to win one of the most prestigious awards in the film industry, the Palme d'Or for his short-film ‘I Am Afraid to Forget Your Face’ at the world-renowned Cannes Film Festival. Sameh is currently developing his debut feature film ‘I Can Hear Your Voice… Still’.


Hana Al Omair from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is an exciting and talented writer, filmmaker, and film critic. Her thriller series ‘Whispers’, the first Netflix Saudi original production is currently streaming in 190 countries. Hana first came onto the scene in 2008 picking up the award for Best script in the Saudi Film Competition for the short drama ‘Hadaf, she went onto win awards for short films ‘The Complaint’ and ‘Swan Song’ at the Saudi Film Festival. Earlier this year Hana was awarded the inaugural

Red Sea Film Festival’s Red Sea Lodge production grant of $500,000 for the film project ‘Sharshaf’ which she wrote, the film’s director Hind Al-Fahad was awarded the same amount to bring the film to the screen.


Highly talented and versatile up-and-coming actor Brice Bexter El Glaoui was destined to follow a career in the arts, his grandfather the prolific Moroccan painter Hassan El Glaoui and his uncle actor, director, and screenwriter Mehdi El Glaoui had a huge influence on the young budding actor who was born in Switzerland and raised in Morocco. Brice studied acting at the New York Film Academy and the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute.


Brice’s impressive acting credits include, ‘Greetings from ISIS’ directed by Mehdi Elkhaoudy, ‘Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears’ directed by Tony Tilse, and is soon to be seen in the political drama ‘Redemption Day’ directed by Moroccan Hicham Hajji alongside Andy Garcia. Also, scheduled for a 2021 release Brice can be seen in Hamid Rahbaoui’s ‘A Song for Juliette’.


On the small screen, Brice can be seen in the series ‘Glow & Darkness’ directed by José Luis Moreno and starring Jane Seymour, Denise Richards, and Joan Collins. Brice is currently filming Zhor Fassi-Fihri’s ‘The Moderator’ in Morocco and has also boarded the upcoming French/Moroccan production ‘Atoman’, featuring the first Moroccan-African superhero.


Tara Abboud is a gifted emerging Palestinian-Jordanian actress who fell in love with the arts at an early age studying Ballet at the National Center for Culture and Arts in Amman. Being in this creative environment granted her the opportunity to land roles in various graduation film projects by emerging directors, who have since become prominent names within the industry. Tara has turned in impressive performances in a slate of short films before landing her first leading role in Amjad Al Rasheed’s ‘Princess of the Mountains’, followed by a role in Zaid Khaled’s ’12 Centimetres’ and Leen Awad’s ‘Hayah’. Tara’s foray into television in the Jordanian series ‘Oboor’ was highly praised and lead to her landing a prominent role in acclaimed Egyptian director Mohamed Diab's upcoming film ‘Amira’ alongside Saba Mubarak and Ali Suleiman.


Hailing from Lebanon, Stephanie Atala is an exceptional singer and film and theatre actress who is making waves both at home and internationally. Based in Beirut, Stephanie is a graduate of the ALBA School of Arts. In 2017, Stephanie starred in the independent musical feature ‘In Circle’ shot in Los Angeles and directed by Rachel Meguerdijian. She can be seen in the upcoming psychological thriller ‘Farah’ directed by Hassiba Freiha and Kenton Oxley, which she also sings the soundtrack for along with British artist Boy George. She is currently on set in the UAE shooting the feature ‘Tuesday 12’ directed by Majdi Smiri which is set for a 2021 release. Stephanie can be been on the small screen this Ramadan in the lead role of the regional series ‘Nabd’ directed by Mohamed Lutfi and hosts the online weekly show of ‘Kazdoura’.


Algerian actor Mehdi Ramdani is poised to hit the big screen next year as one of the lead actors of the upcoming historical drama ‘Héliopolis’, which is Algeria’s submission to the best international film category of the 2021 Oscars. Ramdani combines his acting with his twin passion of working as an artisan jeweller in the Berber style. He made his first big-screen appearance in Amin Sidi-Boumédiène's 2011 short film ‘Demain, Alger?’, he followed this with roles in Sofia Djama’s shorts ‘Les 100 pas de Monsieur X’ and ‘Mollement, un Samedi Matin’ and Lyès Salem’s feature ‘The Man from Oran’.


It is Ramdani's collaborations with director Karim Moussaoui that have brought him the most recognition on the international stage. He starred in Moussaoui's 2013 short ‘The Days Before’, which played in Locarno's Leopards of Tomorrow competition, and his debut feature ‘Until the Birds Return’, which world premiered in Cannes Un Certain Regard in 2017. Recently, he has also been making forays in the French film and TV industry, securing a small role in Hélier Cisterne’s drama ‘My Traitor My Love’.


Screen International Editor Matt Mueller commented: “Screen International is proud to be showcasing these six exceptional actors and filmmakers as our 2020 Arab Stars of Tomorrow. In a year like this, it feels more important than ever to highlight talented individuals from the Middle East and North Africa and we congratulate this year’s cohort and look forward to seeing them prosper. We are also delighted to be working again with the Cairo International Film Festival and thrilled to welcome on board MBC Hope as a sponsor. We thank both of our Arab Stars of Tomorrow partners for their support.”


CIFF’s Head of Cairo Industry Days, Aliaa Zaky commented: “2020 has been a difficult year for the industry but despite the challenges, the wealth of talent in the region is abundant with new and exciting voices who continue to make their mark behind and in front of the camera. We are proud to champion and shine a spotlight on these exceptional individuals. We congratulate this year’s Stars and thank Screen and our sponsors MBC Hope for their unwavering support.”


Head of Corporate Sustainability at MBC Group Mariam Farag added: “We are very proud to be part of this initiative, shedding light on the emerging talents in the creative industry. At MBC Hope we believe that the region has unlimited potential and a pool of talent waiting to be discovered. Our role is to mobilize their passion to create and present content that can educate, entertain, and inspire. With our partnership with Cairo International Film Festival and Screen International, we can pave the way for regional talent and global collaboration in the future.”


The group picture –
Left to Right: Brice Bexter El Glaoui, Tara Abboud, Sameh Alaa, Hana Al Omair
Credit: - Omar Abd El Rahman


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