Presenting his feature documentary debut, a story of entrepreneurship, ‘Kilo 64’, MA Screen Documentary alumnus Amir El-Shenawy tells us about his career so far and his experience at Goldsmiths.
Taking skills he developed at Goldsmiths in pitching projects, he went on to win the Post-Production award for his documentary feature debut ‘Kilo 64’ at Cairo Film Connection in 2016, and win the development award at Cairo Film Connection in 2018 for his first project as a producer, which he will take to Rotterdam Film Lab in January 2019.
Originally born in Cairo, Amir has worked in the film industry for many years, including as the assistant director in the award-winning film ‘Clash’, directed by Mohamed Diab, and directing documentaries for international organisations working in Egypt. Amir studied Journalism at the Danish School of Media in Denmark, then majoring in Media Arts and double minoring in Film and Arab & Islamic Civilizations at the American University in Cairo. He came to London to study MA Screen Documentary at Goldsmiths graduating in 2017.
Studying at Goldsmiths was “one of the best experiences I have ever had in my life”. The course was “17 students coming from 13 different countries from all over the globe, and each one of us was coming from a different background; thus, each one of us had a different taste of filmmaking.” It was the diversity that enriched his experience and enabled him “to get familiar with different styles of filmmaking” while expanding his network.
During his studies, a highlight outside of his course was Gold Docs, a series of documentary screenings followed by Q&As with the filmmakers. “It was the perfect place to meet big names in the documentary industry in the UK, such as Kim Longinotto and Jerry Rothwell.” While enjoying weekly seminars moderated by Daisy Asquith, “I learnt so much from her”. Finding his own voice in filmmaking, his course encouraged him to “become more open to try new ideas and to experiment new tools”. Since graduating, he notes the positive impact of opportunities offered throughout the course: “to get a chance to volunteer at Sheffield DocFest, which is one of the most important documentary festivals in the world really helped me”.
Kilo 64 is Amir’s feature documentary debut following the journey of an ambitious pharmacy graduate who shifts his career and starts a farming business at Kilo 64 off Cairo-Alexandria desert road. Moved by the spirt of the January 25th Revolution, Wael El-Shenawy, 24, starts an agriculture startup with the aim to make a social impact, but not everything goes as planned.
Filmed over two years, Kilo 64 is a tale of two generations as it follows the journey of the young entrepreneur who’s trying to revive his father’s dream, who made the same attempt 20 years ago. It is a simple, personal story that tells a lot about what happened in Egypt for decades.