Fears Escalating for Imprisoned Egyptian Producer Moataz Abdelwahab

According to media reports, Abdelwahab’s “When We’re Born” musical drama has been nominated to represent Egypt in the Oscar competition, category of best foreign language foreign films.

The film was chosen by a committee formed of 41 members, including the film’s director, Tamer Ezzat, to represent Egypt in the Oscar competition.

The film’s producer, Moataz Abdelwahab, was arrested last May on charges of belonging to a terrorist group and misusing social networking sites. He is the owner of a documentary film production company, Team One, and member of the Egyptian Filmmakers Syndicate.

Although he was acquitted in previous cases, Abdelwahab is still detained in the context of new cases, the details of which have not been revealed by the Egyptian authorities until now.

On 28 October 2020, the International Coalition for Filmmakers at Risk (ICFR) has sounded the alarm for Egyptian producer Moataz Abdelwahab, following his continued imprisonment in Cairo.

Producing under the banner of Team One Productions, Abdelwahab’s recent credits include Tamer Ezzat’s musical drama “When We’re Born”, which world premiered at the El Gouna Film Festival last year, and also played at Tunisia’s Carthage Film Festival.

He was arrested last May on charges of “partnering with a terrorist organization” and “spreading false news”.

ICFR said these accusations were in relation to cultural documentary films which were sold to and aired on the Aljazeera Documentary Channel, adding that according to legal experts, the arrest is based on false and fabricated charges.

After 22 weeks of pre-trial detention, the judge ordered his release. But instead of releasing him immediately, the prosecution filed a new fabricated illogical accusation of “joining a terrorist group while in custody,” explained European Film Academy chairman and ICFR co-founder Mike Downey.

These trumped-up charges are as unacceptable in human rights terms as the terrible conditions he is being kept in prison where there are now serious concerns for Moataz’ health.”

ICFR said it was also concerned about the safety of his family, including his two children, aged 12 and six.

Aside from When We’re Born, Abdelwahab’s other credits include the documentaries Khan’s Fingerprints, about the life and work of late Egyptian director Mohamed Khan, and The Heart of Cairo, exploring the history of the city.

His most recent credit is Amir Ramses’s Curfew which is due to world premiere at the Cairo International Film Festival in December.

The ICFR was launched last year to support filmmakers facing political persecution. Its founding bodies include European Film Academy (EFA), the International Documentary Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) and the International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR).

Who Is Moataz Abdelwahab?

Moataz Abdelwahab graduated from the Higher Institute of Cinema in 2000, and worked as a producer in a variety of TV shows and documentaries. His experience ranges from news to entertainment and music. In 2010, Abdelwahab established Team One, which has become a leading company in documentary films and TV programs in the Egyptian market and the Arab region and has recently ventured in feature fiction films’ productions. Among the company’s clients are Al Jazeera, CBC, Discovery Education and Euro News. Many of Abdelwahab’s documentaries focused on the history of the Arab cinema, and profiling the pioneers of the industry.

Abdelwahab is producing his first feature: “When We Are Born” partnering with director and co-producer Tamer Ezzat. Armed with years of experience in the production field and a passion for art, he brings a fresh production strategy to the Egyptian market, focusing on uncompromising artistic values that also appeal to mass audiences.