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Maskoon Fantastic Film Festival 14-18 September (01/09/2016)

Beirut welcomes the Arab World's first fantastic film festival

Beirut, 1st of September 2016: The Lebanese Capital is gearing up to host the first specialized film festival for horror, action, fantasy and sci-fi in the region. Maskoon ─ the Arabic word for haunted ─ is the latest ambitious endeavor from producer Myriam Sassine and development executive Antoine Waked of independent leading Beirut-based production house, Abbout Productions.

The popularity of genres films has been on the rise for the past decade, but the lack of diversity in commercial releases in the region has created a need for a more diversified selection unrestricted to the usual Hollywood fares. Maskoon ─ which runs from September 14-18 at Metropolis Empire Sofil, Ashrafieh except for the closing event which is taking place in Station Beirut, Sin El Fil ─ is aiming to fill in that gap but offering an eclectic programming that includes master-classes and a section for Arab genre shorts. On the long the run, the fest aims to establish itself as the mecca for genre film fans in the region and a showcase for the best horror and action films in the Arab World.

Maskoon opens with Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert's quirky adventure/comedy Swiss Army Manstarring Daniel Radcliffe and Paul Dano. Swiss Army Man is the perfect way to open our festival" artistic director Waked states. "Its blend of comedy and tragedy is going to surprise the audience and set the tone for the rest of the fair. It's one of the most original films to hit the screen in a while. Behind its goofy facade is a story with a big heart about human connection and self-acceptance." Joining Swiss Army Man is Can Evrenol's Turkish horror Baskin; Joyce A. Nashawati's French/Greek psychological thriller The Blind Sun; the dreamy fantasy Evolution by Lucile Hadzihalilovic from France; Indian crime thriller Raman Raghav 2.0by acclaimed Gangs of Wasseypur helmer Anurag Kashyap; Gilles Penso and Alexandre Poncet's documentary Creature Designers - The Frankenstein Complex from France; and Babak Anvari's Persian Sundance sensation Under the Shadows.Maskoon will also host a special screening of John Carpenter's classic Halloween.

Maskoon will wrap its first edition with a screening of genre Arab shorts followed by a cine-concert by The Bunny Tylers, the newly created band of musicians Charbel Haber and Fadi Tabbal. Their music will accompany six short films by pioneer Spanish Filmmaker Segundo De Chomon. Cinemoz are also hosting many activities to accompany this closing event at Station Beirut. The Arab shorts section includes the following films: 3 :30 by Hussen Ibraheem (Lebanon, Jordan), Baisers Nocturnes by Malak Mroueh (Lebanon), I by Ali Al-anssari (Qatar), Nation Estate by Larissa Sansour (Palestine, Denmark), The Return of Red Riding Hood by Raja-Moeen Tawil (Lebanon) and Ruines by Roy Arida (Lebanon, France). 

Two master-classes will be given by special effects and prosthetic artist Dan Frye (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows; Game of Thrones) and visual effects supervisor Chadi Abo (The Matrix Reloaded; 300). Also attending the festival are Can Evrenol, Baskin's Director, Karel Och the artistic director of Karlovy Vary International Film Festival (KVIFF), Evrim Ersoy, filmmaker and programmer at Fantastic Fest Austin and Joseph Fahim, film critic and programmer at Berlin's Critic's Week.

"As one of our main goals is to encourage local genre productions, It's important for us to have the Lebanese film community (filmmakers, producers and technicians) engaging during the festival with our guests," executive director Sassine said. "We plan to do some networking events and would be happy to arrange one-on-one meetings." To achieve its ambitious objectives, Maskoon has partnered with The Metropolis Association, the sole art-house theater in Beirut; the Lebanese Academy of Fine Arts (ALBA) - University of Balamand and Cinemoz, the fastest growing VOD platform in the Arab World. ͞The partners backing Maskoon reflect the spirit of the festival and represent the whole production chain from learning the craft to showing the work. Each one of them has been creating fresh initiatives and injecting dynamism in our regional cinema. It was only natural they all came together to support the festival that plans to grow with time. We foresee a rise of Arab genre content in the future and would like for Maskoon to be a hub to support it. Also, Fondation Liban Cinema that has been acting as Lebanon's film center for the past years is joining the key partners.͟

The dearth of genres like horror and fantasy in the region according to Waked is an anomaly given the fertile space these films offer for the kind of political and socio-economic criticism that define most films in the Arab World. "The region is so rich with these stories, yet no one exploits them," Waked commented. "Over the years and upcoming editions, Maskoon will try to change this reality, paving the way for production of quality genre films from our region."

Maskoon Fantastic Film Festival will take place from 14 to 17 September at Metropolis Empire Sofil - Achrafieh and on the 18 at Station Beirut - Sin El Fil


Maskoon Schedule


Wednesday 14th

8:00pm Metropolis:
Swiss Army Man by Dan Kwan et Daniel Scheinwert (USA)- 1h37

Thursday 15th

8pm Metropolis:
Baskin by Can Evrenol (Turkey)- 1h37 Followed by a Q&A with the director

10:30pm Metropolis:
Blind Sun by Joyce A. Nashawati (France- Greece)- 1h28

Friday 16th

6:00pm Metropolis:
Masterclass "Discover the Hidden World of VFX" with Chadi Abo

8:00pm Metropolis:
Psycho Raman (Raman Raghav 2.0) by Anurag Kashyap (India)- 2h08

10:30pm Metropolis:
Evolution by Lucile Hadžihalilović (France)- 1h21

Saturday 17th

4:00 pm Metropolis:
Creature Designers: The Frankenstein Complex by Alexandre Poncet & Gilles Penso (France)- 1h47

6:30pm Metropolis:
Masterclass "Inside the Magic of Prosthetic Makeup" with Dan Frye

8:30pm Metropolis:
Under The Shadow by Babak Anvari (Iran)- 1h24

10h30pm Metropolis:
Halloween by John Carpenter (USA)- 1h31

Sunday 18th

7:00pm Station Beirut:
Arab Shorts (Baisers Nocturnes, Ruines, Le Retour Du Chaperon Rouge, I, Nation Estate, 3:30)

9:00pm Station Beirut:
Cine-Concert Segundo Di Chomon short films with music by The Bunny Tylers