A total 120 projects from Morocco to Syria are set to be supported over the next three years by the new $2.2m (€2m) ICAM programme co-funded the European Union.

Speaking to ScreenDaily, Catherine Buresi, one of ICAM’s initiators, explained that “the idea was to create a programme to support the development of projects, training measures and networking events as a forum for producers from the nine Arab countries”.

ICAM (Investing in Culture & Arts in the South Mediterranean) started operations from headquarters in Cairo at the Noon Foundation earlier this year and will run for three years until April 2018.

The eligible countries are Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

According to Buresi, the project is working with local partners throughout the region such as Jordan’s Luminus Media, Egypt/Cyprus-based SEMAT for production & distribution, Morocco’s Rabii Films Productions, Algeria’s M.D. Ciné as well as the non-profit association Cap Network in Belgium.

It is planned to award a total of $545,000 (€500,000) each year to young talents with grants ranging from $5,450 (€5,000) to $21,800 (€20,000) for feature-length documentary or fiction films, shorts, web content and other related projects.

After the three years, ICAM is expected to have supported 120 projects in total, with 20 feature-length films, 10 shorts and web content, and 10 projects related to filmmaking being backed each year

In addition, the programme would cooperate with regional partners on organising networking, training and marketing events such as four training workshops in Algeria, Egypt, Jordan and Morocco and two professional forums at the Luxor Egyptian and European Film Festival in 2017 and 2018.

While the programme’s focus is on fostering a new generation of film producers in the South Mediterranean, “we also want to give young artists an opportunity to collaborate with filmmakers,” Buresi added.

“For example, if a production company decides to work with a young composer from the region, they could apply for a grant for this once the contract has been signed with the composer.

“In addition, the programme will be working in Cairo in a professional way with readers and a selection committee and in organising producers forums, so this will be good preparation for the young people to be able to administer a film fund in the future.

“We will, of course, have to raise matching funds because the $2.2m (€2m) from the EU represents 80% of the project’s budget.”

Therefore, a fundraising campaign will target cultural foundations and other institutions in Europe or within the region, and the possibility of crowdfunding will be explored.

ICAM made itself known to a wider (professional) audience at last week’s Locarno Film Festival when Buresi and Ahmed El Maanouni of Casablanca-based Rabii Films Productions attended the Open Doors co-production lab which, appropriately, was dedicated to the maghreb region this year.

They used the opportunity to award the programme’s first ever grant of $21,800 (€20,000) for the project’s development or postproduction to Moroccan filmmaker Alaa Eddine Aljem’s Saint Inconnu which is set to be produced by Francesca Duca’s Le Moindre Geste next year.

Israel focus in Hamburg

Waltz With Bashir director Ari Folman has been invited by the Filmfest Hamburg (October 1-10) to curate a programme of films to mark the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations being established between Germany and Israel.

This year’s regional focus, Israel Deluxe, will feature Folman’s personal selection drawn from 1971 and 2012, ranging from Ephraim Kishon’s Oscar-nominated Ha-Shoter Azoulay (1971) and Rafi Bukai’s Golden Leopard-winning anti-war film Avanti Polo (1986) through David Perlov’s six-hour essay Diary (1983) and Uri Zohar’s cult comedy Peeping Toms (1972) to Yoav Shamir’s award-winning documentary Checkpoint (2003) and Jonathan Gurfinkel’s feature debut Six Acts (2012).

Folman will be at the Filmfest to present the films in person.

The Filmfest’s 23rd edition, which will be opened on October 1 by Jaco van Dormael’s The Brand New Testament, will be launching two new sidebars - Veto! dedicated to political cinema and Transatlantik as a platform for English-language North American cinema.

This year’s Doc Alliance Selection Award winner, Abbas Fahdel’s Homeland (Iraq Year Zero), will have its German premiere in Veto!, while Dito Montiel’s Boulevard - with the late Robin Williams in his last lead role - and Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s Me, Earl and the Dying Girl have already been confirmed for Transatlantik.