cinema in the
heart of Cairo
In a cinematic landscape dominated by blockbusters and local mainstream productions, MIF recognizes how essential it is to offer audiences an alternative brand of cinema. From this need was born the Zawya initiative, with the main mission of providing a cultural alternative
to the commercial film experience, and to celebrate and promote the artistic elements of the medium, thus catering to an increasing demand for local and international art-house films in Egypt and promoting the work of emerging Egyptian and Arab filmmakers.
The first and only true art-house cinema in Egypt, Zawya Cinema opened its doors in March 2014, screening daily non-commercial films from all over the world, with special attention given to Arab and Egyptian independent films. Since its launching, Zawya Cinema has released more than 100 local, regional and international art-house films (shorts, feature documentaries and fiction). Parallel to theatrical releases, Zawya organizes special screenings and film programs such as Sunday Screenings, thematic film weeks, retrospectives and other special screenings.
With more than 150,000 admissions reached in less than 4 years and more than 15 screening venues throughout the year and across the country, Zawya Cinema has successfully built a strong and loyal audience base. We are firm believers that exposure to arts, at an early age, is essential in the creation of well-rounded citizens who can apply the skills, knowledge and experience from being involved in the arts to their future careers and lives. Zawya also developed a special program to educate the youngest generation by using film as a powerful active learning tool.
Targeting schools, universities and other educational institutions, Zawya Cinema dedicates the morning showtime for special screenings for pupils, including moderation sessions conducted by teachers, academics and industry professionals. What truly distinguishes Zawya apart is its creation of a space in which audiences and filmmakers can come in direct contact through Q&As,master classes and workshops making Zawya a meeting point for artists, intellectuals, critics and film industry professionals from the local and international world, all year round.
Since its inception in 2014, Zawya has also been responsible for MIF’s yearly Panorama of the European Film, which was originally launched by MIF in 2004 and which showcases award-winning feature and documentary productions from across Europe. The Panorama has become one of the most awaited annual cinema rendez-vous for all cinephiles and industry professionals in Egypt, due to the quality and uncensored nature of films and the rich exchanges and debates with international guests.
Zawya also regularly hosts and organizes events in partnership with other like-minded cultural institutions in Egypt such as D-CAF (Downtown Contemporary Arts Festival), Cimatheque Alternative Film Center, Cairo Contemporary Dance Center and Cairobserver. Hybrid Reels, Zawya Short Film Festival, Cairo Cinema Days, Ibero-American Film Week, and Animation Weekend are examples of events that are organized annually, within that framework of diversification and cooperation.
In 2015, Zawya Distribution was conceived with the intention of creating an alternative distribution model bridging the gap between independent Egyptian films and their audience through targeted and encompassing strategies. Zawya Distribution works to give films a long shelf life, traversing past the theatrical release with a strong exhibition on TV channels, VoD and other ancillary forms of distribution, including non-commercial releases.
A project which started with a 175-seat screening hall in Cinema Odeon has established itself, within a mere few years, as a cinematic brand, present in several outlets within and beyond the capital, either on permanent basis, with weekly screening programs and various workshops
related to filmmaking in Alexandria, Port Said and Ismailia, or seasonally such as during the 10th edition of Panorama of European film, where Zawya’s geographical reach hit a new high of ten cities all around Egypt from Qena to Alexandria. And the expansion continues.