Cactus Flower received support from Sørfond in 2016, and won best actress at Dubai International Film Festival in December. The film is a co-production between Egypt, Norway, United Arab Emirates, and Qatar, with the Egyptian production company Transit Films as main producer.
Hala Elkoussy visually arresting debut feature is named after the beautiful and sturdy cactus flower. It chronicles a friendship born under harrowing circumstances, in a Cairo suffering from political unrest and an unbearable heat. Aida, a struggling actress, and her elderly and once glamorous neighbour Samida is thrown out of their apartments. Together with the street-smart young man Yassin they search the city for a safe place to stay, running into old friends, relative, lovers and other acquaintances along the way.
The Norwegian co-producer is DUOFilm AS, represented by Linda Bolstad, Marie Fuglestein Lægreid and Ingrid Lill Høgtun.
“Cactus Flower was received with great enthusiasm by the Norwegian audience during Films From the South-festival – in fact we, DUOfilm, were told it turned out to be one of the most popular films. Therefore, it was particularly satisfactory to follow Cactus Flower to Dubai, where it had its MENA premiere, and to witness that it resonated in the same way with the Middle Eastern audience. We were not surprised that Menha El Batroui won best actress in the main competition: her interpretation of the homeless, reclusive old bourgeois Samiha is dynamic and fascinating, she almost “emerges” from the screen,” says the Norwegian producer Ingrid Lill Høgtun.
Another film co-produced by DUOfilm, You Will Die at Twenty, by filmmaker Amjad Abu Alala, won the ART Award for best project in Dubai. The film is set in a Sudanese village where a woman gives birth to a boy who becomes saddled with a Dervish prophecy.
“We in DUOfilm have had a great experience in working with the team behind Cactus Flower, which has brought us to continue our collaboration with the main producer, Hossam Elouan from Transit Films in Egypt. We received Sørfond + funding to co-produce You Will Die at Twenty in 2017, and will be shot in 2018,” Høgtun explains.
“We are so grateful that the Sørfond exists and has given us the opportunity to develop our relationship with Hossam, who in our opinion has a great taste and nose for good projects. It was also a true pleasure being at the Dubai Film Festival this year together with two prize winning projects, thanks to Sørfond.”
Dubai International Film Festival
Since its inception in 2004, DIFF has established itself as a major international festival, while continuing to serve as a premier showcase event for Arab cinema, and contributing to the development and growth of the regional industry. The 14th Dubai International Film Festival was held from 6th December - 13th December 2017. Read more here.