Creative Tracks Series - Beyond the platform : Iman Kamel

Iman, an Egyptian filmmaker, has founded Nomad’s Home Production. With the support of the RCF/Creative Tracks grant she traveled from Cairo to New Delhi to take part in the Women Economic Forum.
What is your professional background?
My academic background is multidisciplinary. I studied Fine Arts, Dance, and Film at the Art Academy in Berlin. After concluding my studies I started a training in European cultural management. I am an artist but also a cultural activist. I believe in the role of the artist as a global player as well as a local mover and shaker. I got involved with diverse cultural and media projects between Berlin and Cairo.
In 2011 the revolution started in Egypt, and it was a turning point. We all had renewed visions. I was eager to understand the bigger picture, so I registered for a mid-career programme, both global and interdisciplinary. I concluded the Global Master of Arts Program (GMAP) at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in International Relations two years ago. Currently, I am building up my professional enterprise for the implementation of my cross-cultural and transboundary projects.
I see myself as a nomad. I am a bridger of cultures and I move from across disciplines and sectors. The challenge is to find a business model that will adapt to this movement.
How and why did you start your cultural venture?
In 2000 I founded Nomad’s Home Production and it started producing independent films. We need cooperation between Egyptian, Arab and European producers in the film industry. It was not just about cooperation, but also about emerging, talented Arab filmmakers. I did a lot of fostering and mentoring young filmmakers from the region.
Now I am in the course of expanding my operations to the Nomad’s Home Forum to embody my diverse and multi-disciplinary body of work. My work is based on a concept I created during my research: Cultural Ecoplomacy, which is a hybrid concept crossing sectors and actors forging new channels between the creative economy, cultural diplomacy, and ecological engagements. This movement acts on the grassroots level, from peer-to-peer, from artist to artist.
What local context motivated you to start your venture?
I started my venture as a filmmaker in 2000 in Berlin. The independent film scene in Egypt started to flourish a few years before. After 2011 the artistic and political context fostered a vibrant film and art scene in Egypt. Without the revolution in 2011, I would have never dared to expand my vision. It had an accelerating effect on my work. However, this artist scene is flourishing without any structure or support mechanism. Most artists don’t receive any funding from the state and many of them leave Egypt. Afterward, they collaborate with global actors, through scholarships for instance. But these artists are still very rooted to Egypt and well known by the Egyptian audience. It’s the same for me; I belong to Egypt, I am linked to Egypt, and in a way I represent Egypt, but Nomad’s Home Forum is global. My venture intends to cross borders and nationalisms. But somehow you cannot really work on a global level if you are not well rooted to a local level.
What impacts do you expect at a local level?
Dialogue and discussion with the Egyptian population. For example, my second film, Egyptian Jeanne d’Arc, premiered at the Dubai Film Festival last year, focuses on Egyptian women artists and their ways of resistance. I worked with many diverse artists, painters, dancers, and poets to create this hybrid film between documentary and fiction. After an international release, the film is coming back to Egypt for the Cairo International Film Festival. We are not only developing films or productions, we are seeking debate and critique. We will bring this film to cultural screenings outside Cairo and I will be there to debate with the audience.
What are the next steps for the development of your project?
I want to create a foundation attached to Nomad’s Home Forum, which will develop five strands:
- Film production. The foundation will help me to establish my company in the film industry. For example, I am a representative of the Arab Film Institute, a new platform which will organise the Arab Film Awards 2018. - The second pillar is coaching and training upcoming talents through media projects, because this is the perfect medium for multidisciplinary projects. - Research and analysis on the global cultural diplomacy (Cultural Ecoplomacy) is another field of development. The cultural diplomacy on a local level is non-existent. What is the impact of the artist as a global player? What is the role of the artist in community building? How do you build a grassroots movement to influence policymaking? - Networks and incubators are the fourth fields of operations. Belonging to very influential networks like the Fletcher Women Network, or the Arab Film Institute or the Women Economic Forum helps me to be a local incubator and this is my main passion. - The last step is the healing. The well-being and the health of the artist, as well as the ecological and environmental awareness, are crucial to bringing sustainability to their work.
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