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From word to screen: Congress PCI in Abu Dhabi zooms in on film adaptations

From word to screen: Congress PCI in Abu Dhabi zooms in on film adaptations
29 Apr 2024 11:10

SARA ALZAABI (ABU DHABI)

Navigating the complex relationships between literature and film, a discussion session at the third International Congress of Arabic Publishing and Creative Industries (Congress PCI), in Abu Dhabi on Sunday discussed the process of transitioning a novel into a film.

Titled “Filmmaking Alchemy: The Dynamic Relationship Between Literature and Film Adaptations”, and moderated by Eisa Al Marzooqi, presenter and multimedia journalist at Sky News Arabia, the session featured Marwan Hamed, an Egyptian film director, Ahmed Mourad, an Egyptian author and screenwriter, and Ahmed Helmi, an Egyptian actor.

The Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre at the Department of Culture and Tourism organised the annual Congress PCI with the aim of creating a knowledge-sharing hub for regional and international publishing, as well as creative content developers in the Arab market, to highlight the trends in publishing through important cross-disciplinary dialogues.

The session highlighted the wide range of skills required for this complex process. These include those of the directors, scriptwriters, performers, sound engineers, photographers, and composers of music.

The speakers discussed a wide range of book-to-film adaptations, including “The Blue Elephant”, directed by Hamed and featuring actor Karim Abdel Aziz.

Hamed noted that comprehensible communication is the key to facilitating cinema production.

He asserted that the transformation from written language to visual language should adhere to cinematic principles.

According to Hamed, technologies and cinematic elements are meant to enhance the storytelling experience for the viewer, ensuring that the narrative is preserved effectively.

For Mourad, a novel is akin to a rooted relationship with the characters.

He emphasised the necessity of being adaptable and flexible, as one must live with the characters for an extended period of time.

On his part, Hilmi asserted that any cinematic work should add value. “If I am going to do something in Ramadan, I will prepare for it for a year.”

He said that he adjusts himself to stay adaptable amid the evolving dynamics of time, place, people, and cinema. Hilmi also noted that it is essential to incorporate elements that appeal to various age groups.

Manga Scene In an interview with Aletihad, Dr. Essam Bukhary, the CEO of Manga Productions, reviewed the flourishing scene of manga, animation, and video games in the Arab world.

“We are happy with the production of manga. We have comic stories, we have animation, and we have video games.

One of the series achieved 100 million viewers, available on more than 40 platforms in the world,” Dr. Bukhary said.

Discussing the challenges, he pointed to the economic dimension and highlighted the importance of investing more in “local businesses that showcase our culture to the world”.

“Let’s talk about Japan, for example. When a story is first published as manga or comic, if it’s successful, it is adapted into an animation.

If it achieves success, we begin to see cinematic production based on it, and interactive experiences may follow,” Dr. Bukhary added.

An Enabling Environment for Artists In conversation with Aletihad, Dr. Muna Al Suwaidi, Programmes and Projects Advisor in the Culture and Creative Industries sector at the UAE Ministry of Culture, shared strategies and policies to support artists and creatives within the creative industry.

The Congress PCI brought together the key players in the creative industry all over the world and offered a platform to leverage the potential of the Arabic language across various sectors to tell the story and culture of the UAE to the world, Al Suwaidi said.

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