Zawya Distribution is ramping up its 2017 slate of Egyptian independent features with titles including Tamer El Said’s In The Last Days Of The City and Mohamed Rashad’s DIFF competition title Little Eagles.

The Cairo-based distributor has also picked up Mahmoud Lotfy’s Experimental Summer, about the search to find a copy of Egypt’s first independent film, and Anna Roussillon’s award-winning documentary I Am The People for release next year.

Backed by Egypt’s Misr International, Zawya operates an arthouse theatre, Zawya Cinema, in Cairo, and is working with other exhibitors to expand the circuit for independent films. The company’s larger upcoming titles will be released in Alexandria, Ismailia and Port Said, in addition to Cairo.

“Although funding is difficult, Egypt’s independent scene remains vibrant – you can see that from the line-up here at DIFF,” said Zawya head of acquisitions and sales Ahmed Sobky.

Little Eagles, which Zawya picked up last week, is an autobiographical documentary about the children of leftist parents. The film, produced by Hala Lotfy, received its world premiere in DIFF’s Muhr Feature competition on Friday and screens again today (Dec 11). Zawya will release the film following its festival run.  

Zawya is planning to release In The Last Days Of The City, which premiered at Berlin 2016, in the first quarter of next year. “We are aiming for a wider than usual release on this film as it’s one of our bigger titles,” said Sobky. “We plan to tour with the production team and create a series of talks and concerts around the release.”

Zawya has also started organising workshops to develop an arthouse screening culture in Egypt and support individuals and organisations who are interested in screening specialist films. “We’ve met some people who are renovating old cinemas – we share our resources and experience as well as give them access to films,” said Sobky.

Zawya also runs the annual Panorama of European Film, the last edition of which screened 85 films in 10 venues across four cities. Films screened at the event, which drew 11,000 admissions, included SieranevadaFire At Sea, The Wait, Unknown Girl and a restored version of Youssef Chahine’s Adieu Bonaparte.