USC’s Middle East Initiative to Join TV Pitching Session at Cairo Film Festival (Exclusive)

USC’s Middle East Initiative to Join TV Pitching Session at Cairo Film Festival (Exclusive)

Arab TV creators will get the chance to pitch to executives from Netflix, AMC and CAA during the Cairo Film Festival.

With the demand for premium localized content continuing to rise thanks to the growth of streaming platforms, a group of Arab TV creators are now being given the chance to pitch their projects directly to Arab and U.S. TV executives.

The pitching event — the first of its kind in the Middle East — is set to take place at the recently launched 2019 edition of the Cairo Film Festival, as part of its second annual Cairo Industry Days program, with the participation of the USC School of Cinematic Arts’ Middle East Media Initiative (MEMI).

The TV creators are all alumni of MEMI’s TV development program, and will pitch to executives from AMC, CAA, Netflix and Stampede Ventures, among others. 

“This is an incredible opportunity for both buyers and content creators in the region to directly interface with each other,” said Rachel Gandin Mark, co-founder of MEMI, which is supported by the U.S. Department of State. “This direct access will be groundbreaking in terms of establishing a precedent for writer-driven TV content in the region. This is planting the seeds for a regional Arab television market in the future.”

“We’re currently in a fortunate period in our industry where buyers are answering the call of audiences to give them meaningful stories that come from every corner of the world, regardless of language and geographic setting,” said Dov Mamann, co-head of international production at Stampede Ventures. “I am eager to meet the best seasoned and emerging talent the Arab TV world has to offer at the Cairo event.”

Over the past two years, MEMI’s programming has supported top Arab TV writers in developing a slate of character-driven, complex storylines, including those that engage the region’s social issues such youth alienation, women’s empowerment, corruption and minority rights. Many MEMI alumni are taking on these topics in new genres and formats not traditionally seen in Arab TV programming.

“[MEMI] gave me an entire community of Arab writers who support me, honed my skills so I could gain confidence, then expanded my network so that I can continue to write and produce in the region,” said Lebanese TV writer Nadia Tabbara, whose series, Awake, is currently on regional VOD provider OSN. Now, because of MEMI’s continued efforts, I get the chance to pitch my projects to regional and international giants.” 

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