Amr Salama , Menna Shalabi and Khaled Abul Naga are among a few celebrities who have signed up to raise awareness for HIV/AIDS in Egypt as part of the World AIDS Campaign Egypt (WAC Egypt ). The World AIDS Campaign has made relentless efforts to bring HIV and AIDS into the news. Raising awareness in Egypt has been a top priority in this country where knowledge about the disease is scarce and even basic information about how the condition is spread, let alone ways to prevent or treat it, has not permeated through to most of society.
It should come as no surprise that WAC Egypt is hosting a short film competition with the ultimate goal to raise awareness by calling on hopefuls to submit films with the theme “What should you know about AIDS?” The competition will produce films and material that can then be extensively used in media as well as being shown to audiences for awareness purposes.
“The films will provide material which will come in handy in our line of work. In addition to hosting a screening of the short films in January or February after the competition has officially ended, we can use them to raise awareness and spread information through airing on television, having them on the internet, et cetera,” said Lobna Satani, project officer at UNAIDS, the body responsible for WAC Egypt.
The call for submission started on 22 October and will end on 31 December. Besides the three famous names that will be among the jury members, Satani added that the jury will also include one of WAC Egypt’s own.
Amr Salama famously directed Asmaa, one of the boldest films to handle the HIV/AIDS issue in Egyptian and Arab cinema. The film is heavily featured on WAC Egypt’s website and offers an unapologetic portrayal of an AIDS victim without condemnation or judgment. Both Abul Naga and Shalabi have been involved in speaking out for the cause previously. Shalabi recorded a radio spot for WAC Egypt that dealt with discrimination against those living with HIV/AIDS.
The competition is limited to those who are in the youth category so filmmakers must be anywhere from 16 to 35 years-old and be Egyptian citizens. The films have to be under seven minutes and have to deal with at least one of the seven categories of the competition, which are divided up by theme. Additionally, the films need to have been made specifically for the competition and not have been shown publicly before. The categories, as provided by WAC Egypt, include: basic information about HIV and AIDS (differences between HIV and AIDS including how HIV is transmitted and means of prevention), misconceptions about HIV and people living with HIV, getting tested for HIV or other services, youth activism for HIV and AIDS, stigma and discrimination towards people living with HIV, rights of people living with HIV, experience of women and/or children living with HIV and wild card category of any other issue related to HIV not listed above.
If the films include dialogue, the dialogue must be in Arabic, with English subtitles if the filmmaker wishes. By limiting the language to Arabic exclusively, WAC Egypt wants to increase potential audiences of the films, especially since educational material and literature on the subject are more widely available in English and other languages.