Apart from the glitz and glamour paraded on red carpets, there is very little we know about the film industry in the Middle East. Arab cinema has made great breakthroughs in recent years, with a bigger focus put on regional production, marking an exciting new chapter in the region's cinematic heritage. The industry has been exploring vast new territories and genres, from sci-fi to speculative fiction, proving that Arab film has a way of shaping stories that inevitably come back to shape us. However, the crucial story that has yet to be told is the one that unpacks the trials and tribulations of life backstage. Perhaps what happens in the film industry shouldn't strictly stay in the film industry.
In an effort to unravel the mysteries and inner workings of Arab cinema, Habibi Collective is set to launch an interview podcast featuring regional experts in the industry to discuss the fundamentals of the business, from producers and editors to writers and actors. The lineup includes industry giants such as Alia Shawkat, Habibi Funk, Cinema Akil and Annemarie Jacir. With over 20 episodes programmed, guests will engage in intimate conversations about this hidden chapter that we don't know of but love. Accessibility is integral to the project, as the women-led team aims to speak to the younger generation that's just starting out in the industry.
"Supporting each other includes sharing information in an accessible way and I believe this is the key to the growth of any creative community," Róisín Tapponi, founder of Habibi Collective.
Podcasting arguably embodies all the essential components of inclusive communication. By bringing in different voices and discussing uncovered themes, narratives are rewritten and education takes on a new shape. Many creatives in the region have chosen to ride the podcasting wave as a new means of storytelling, in hopes to become decolonial sources of representation. These platforms are pillars of education, giving the listeners a chance to take part in their own learning process, by engaging in discussions and eventually moulding the industry. "I'm excited to bring honest conversations directly to those who need it the most,” Tapponi adds. “You shouldn't have to pay for film school or work for 10 years to understand how it works.”
The podcast will be hosted and archived on habibicollective.com, starting from the 30th of November until July 2021. It will be free, but listeners are encouraged to donate via their Patreon.
For more on Habibi Collective, check out our interview with Róisín Tapponi earlier this year.