This campaign is organised by Michael Tomlinson to help my friend Sami Yaseen raise money to start his PhD in Film Studies which involves making a documentary feature film. Please read Sami’s message below.
My name is Haytham Fathy (Known professionally as Sami Yaseen). I am an Egyptian filmmaker based in Cairo and London. In the last 6 years, I have worked as a producer on many different film and story development projects.
- I have produced The Gaza Tunnels, a feature documentary about the smuggling tunnels between Egypt and Palestine. The film participated in ‘Meet Market’ at Sheffield Film Festival in the UK in 2012 and was featured on Al-Jazeera English in May, 2014. - I also produced Broken Dreams, a feature documentary about the first female “fisherman” in Gaza, Palestine. It has been nominated for the 2015 Film Prize of the Robert Bosch Stiftung for international cooperation in the Germany/Arab World.
In 2015, I was awarded The Vice-Chancellor’s International Scholarship 2015/16 - University of the Arts London, which allowed me to do my masters in Screen Directing at Drama Centre London, Central Saint Martins.
Now, I am hoping to continue my studies at the doctoral level where I will focus on the rich, historical relationship between Egyptian queer community and the cinema it inspires.
Three major UK universities accepted me on their PhD program in Film Studies but unfortunately scholarships are very limited now so I could not receive one. I refuse to be deterred from my goal as I know many Egyptians in the LGBT community would only benefit from my work, so now I am trying to start as a self-funded student.
The PhD in Film at the University of East Anglia is equal parts creative and practical so I will both make a feature documentary film as well as write a dissertation to support my film.
My PhD goals and how it benefits Egypt My PhD will center on abnormal, often close-minded views of gay men and their masculinity in Egyptian cinema. The topics I will focus on in my graduate work will address;
1) How the concept of masculinity is reduced to an over-simplified tool by filmmakers, such as to project an image or even to defend a character’s integrity; 2) How non-sexual emotional exchanges between both straight and gay men on screen are conveyed through actions, words, and gestures; and 3) What we glean from moments of male sensuality outside of a sexual context.
The real impacts of these topics address the key issues regarding how the presentation of men and their masculinity in Egyptian cinema influences public opinion, both good and bad.
The film I intend to produce will focus on understanding the ‘regressive’, often intolerant portrayal of queer men in Egyptian cinema and the reasons behind it. This will include a rich, in-depth analysis of gay characters presented in nine historic and diverse films produced over the last 50 years including interviews with some of the writers.
So, why do I want to do a PhD? I believe queer men in Egypt need a voice, and deserve a deeper exploration as to the agents that have shaped our current thoughts and perspectives as a country.
I also believe the final film will have a larger draw and be very informative for Egyptian crowds as, I surmise, stories become more interesting when ‘taboo’ topics are the focus, homosexuality in Egypt being high on this list.
What am I asking for? The deposit and the first instalment of my tuition fee, just to kick-start my program and I will do the rest.
How much money do I need to kick-start my PhD? I am hoping to raise GBP 6,400.00 and this amount will go towards my tuition fee (2,000.00 deposit + 4,400.00 first instalment).
When do I need the money? 2,000.00 deposit by June 25th 2018. 4,400.00 first instalment by September 30th 2018.
Here are the perks you could get if you donate:
GBP 2,000 or more Your name will appear in the end credits of the film as ASSOCIATE PRODUCER Access to the filmset for one day to watch filming Lunch with the crew The option to work on the filmset as ‘Volunteer’ for one day Two tickets to the wrap party Two tickets to the opening and after party A copy of the film on DVD
GBP 1,000 Access to the filmset for one day to watch filming Lunch with the crew The option to work on the filmset as ‘Volunteer’ for one day Two tickets to the wrap party Two tickets to the opening and after party A copy of the film on DVD
GBP 500 Lunch with the crew 4 tickets to the wrap party to meet the crew 4 tickets to the opening A copy of the film on DVD
GBP 200 4 tickets to the wrap party to meet the crew 4 tickets to the opening A copy of the film on DVD
GBP 100 2 tickets to the opening A copy of the film on DVD
GBP 50 or less 1 ticket to the opening A copy of the film on DVD
Everyone that donates will be mentioned under SPECIAL THANKS section in the end credits unless you prefer to remain anonymous.
And finally, I am sure you know that placing yourself in a vulnerable position and asking for money isn’t easy but I have learned to ask for help only when there is a need. I believe everyone trying to make good things work in their lives is better than not trying at all.
One of the quotes that I like to use for self-motivation was written by the ancient Chinese philosopher and writer Lao-Tzu:
“Be careful what you water your dreams with. Water them with worry and fear and you will produce weeds that choke the life from your dream. Water them with optimism and solutions and you will cultivate success. Always be on the lookout for ways to turn a problem into an opportunity for success. Always be on the lookout for ways to nurture your dream”.
And please, if you do not have the means to make a donation, you can still help by sharing this campaign with your friends.