MAD Solutions honors two Sudanese film projects “COTTON QUEEN” and “LAMP IN THE DARK” at CIFF’s 44th Cairo Film

MAD Solutions honors two Sudanese film projects “COTTON QUEEN” and “LAMP IN THE DARK” at CIFF’s 44th Cairo Film

MAD Solutions honors two Sudanese film projects “COTTON QUEEN” and “LAMP IN THE DARK” at CIFF’s 9th Cairo Film Connection

MAD Solutions participated for the fourth consecutive year in the 44th edition of the Cairo Film Connection (CFC) during the Cairo Industry Days’ (CID) closing ceremony on Sunday, presenting their $50,000 MG award for marketing and distribution in the Arab world to COTTON QUEEN, a Sudanese film project in development by one of the region’s most exciting burgeoning directorial talents, Suzannah Mirghani.

Additionally, the Arab world distribution giant presented a surprise second award to Mahdi El-Tayeb’s guest project – LAMP IN THE DARK, directed by Mahdi El-Tayeb, a pioneer of Sudanese cinema and one of the original founders of the Sudanese Film Group.

COTTON QUEEN will be Suzannah Mirghani’s debut feature and is produced by Caroline Daube. It won the Arte Kino Award in the Cannes Film Festival’s L’Atelier and also received a grant from the Doha Film Institute.

It is a feature project that sprung out of her short film AL-SIT – one of the most awarded films in 2020, receiving more than 30 awards, five of which were from Oscar-qualifying festivals. 

The short was also recently released on Netflix as part of the ‘Because She Created’ theme amongst 22 films by Arab female directors in cooperation with MAD Solutions – the film’s distributor in the Arab world.

COTTON QUEEN takes place in a cotton-farming village in Sudan, where Nafisa learns about life and love under the watchful eye of her grandmother, the powerful matriarch Al-Sit. But when the arrival of a young businessman from abroad threatens to disrupt their way of life with a new development plan, Nafisa finds herself at the center of a power play to determine the future of the village.

Mirghani is a writer, researcher, and passionate independent filmmaker with a special interest in highlighting stories from Sudan and the Arab world. She is a media studies and museum studies graduate and the author and editor of several academic books and articles.

Hailing from a multicultural background – Sudanese and Russian – Mirghani is interested in stories that examine the complexity of identity. She has a number of shorts under her belt, and her latest is the experimental film Virtual Voice, which had its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival.

The surprise second winner, LAMP IN THE DARK, is directed by the renowned Mahdi El-Tayeb. The film follows a driver and a mobile cinema technician who are attacked by gangsters. Later, they are hosted by a family, which includes a son and daughter, who suggest holding a makeshift film screening in their village for the very first time, a topic very close to the heart of El-Tayeb, one of the trailblazers of the Sudanese film industry.

El-Tayeb graduated from the College of Film Direction of the High Institute for Cinema in Cairo in 1977. He specializes in TV and lectures at the Faculty of Drama and Music at Sudan University.

He is also a scriptwriter, a film critic, an SFG Executive Committee Chairperson, as well as a member of the Sudanese Environment Conservation Society.

El-Tayeb’s films include THE TOMB, FOUR TIMES FOR CHILDREN, ALMAHATTA – which was featured at the Locarno Film Festival (2014) and Berlin Film Festival (2019) – VOICES OF DARFUR (financed by UNICEF Sudan), and THE CHILDREN OF ALMATMORA.

The Cairo Film Connection brings together international producers, financiers, distributors, representatives from funding bodies, sales agents, and TV channels to internationally co-produce and partner with films from the Arab world. Moreover, it is a space for Arab filmmakers to initiate connections and receive the support they need to bring their films to completion.

Previously, MAD presented its award at the Final Cut Workshop at the Venice International Film Festival, the Locarno International Film Festival – where the award was dedicated to the Maghreb films – Malmo Arab Film Festival Market Forum in Sweden, Palestine Cinema Days, Festival National du Film Professional Meetings in Tangier in Morocco, the CineGouna Platform of the El-Gouna Film Festival, and the Red Sea International Film Festival’s Red Sea Souk.