Picture courtesy of European Film Academy
In a statement released July 17, the International Coalition for Filmmakers at Risk (ICFR) and its founding institutions, the European Film Academy, International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam and International Film Festival Rotterdam, together with the Human Rights Film Network, Movies that Matter Foundation and PEN America, as well as the Accademia del Cinema Italiano – Premi David di Donatello, German Film Academy, Hellenic Film Academy. Icelandic Film- & TV Academy, Luxembourg Film Academy, Polish Film Academy, Swiss Film Academy and Ukrainian Film Academy, called for the Egyptian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release film producer Moataz Abdelwahab.
The Egyptian film producer Moataz Abdelwahab (43) produced the feature film When We’re Born (2019) by director Tamer Izzat, which played at the El Gouna International Film Festival and Les Journées Cinématographique de Cartage 2019, as well as a number of documentaries, among them Khan’s Fingerprints, a portrait of the prominent Egyptian director Mohammad Khan, The Heart of Cairo, examining the history of the city, and most recently A Curfew, the upcoming film by renowned Egyptian filmmaker Amir Ramses.
The press release states that Moataz Abdelwahab disappeared on 5 May from his office in Cairo, only to re-appear on 11 May for a hearing at the Supreme Court for State Security, where he was accused of “partnering with a terrorist organisation” and “spreading false news” (case 586).
“These accusations come after he produced a number of cultural documentary films which were sold to and aired on the Al Jazeera Documentary Channel. According to legal experts, the arrest is based on false and fabricated charges,” the statement continues.
“We are very concerned about his safety and that of his family (he is the father of two, Zeina (12) and Yousef (6)) and call on the Egyptian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Moataz Abdelwahab and encourage all film and culture institutions around the world to do the same.”
Adds European Film Academy Chairman, Mike Downey: “The arrest and imprisonment of film maker Moataz Abdul Wahab and the widespread detainment of many working in news and culture in Egypt right now is utterly unacceptable, and a betrayal of the most basic of human rights. The ICFR and its partners will continue to fight for the release of Moataz and will step up representations to President Sisi and the Ministry of the Interior whose policy since coming to power has been to stifle all dissent by incarcerating thousands, including many filmmakers, documentarists, journalists, lawyers, rights activists and academics.”
Founded in 2019 by the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, International Film Festival Rotterdam and the European Film Academy, the International Coalition for Filmmakers at Risk’s mission is to advocate for and to act in solidarity with filmmakers at risk. The Coalition acts in cases of persecution or threats to the personal safety of these filmmakers and will defend their right to continue their work, by mobilising the international film community.