Butterflies Are Not Drawn To Light is one of nine main programs in the 9th Cairo Video Festival. The workshop was conceived and facilitated by Mai Elwakil and Sara Elkamel. It was held at Medrar from mid- July to mid- August 2019.

This workshop set out to explore creative approaches to writing about short experimental film and video art, particularly when works are shown in the context of a festival or screening program. With a scarcity of information available to viewers about filmmakers’ interests, practices and contexts, engagement with films becomes more visceral.

Over five sessions, participants collectively viewed films, and took part in activities that are meant to generate original written works, or seeds for longer texts. Underpinning the workshop was a study of the migration, between monologue and dialogue. As we watched selected films from the Festival’s archive and elsewhere, we considered the discursive elements employed by their makers, and as we responded to them, we experimented with private and public monologues, as well as traditional and atypical forms of dialogue. We were concerned with such questions like:
What questions and answers can a monologue present? If dialogue is a means of connection, what happens when it breaks down? What can be gained when we spiral into riddles, mistranslations or silence?

The five group sessions were followed by one-on-one meetings with participants as they developed their final texts in response to selected films. The texts are published online with partner platforms, and are available here: https://www.cvf.medrar.org/portfolios/butterflies-are-not-drawn-to-light/

Special thanks to Leila Arman, Nour El Safoury, Mena El Shazly, Ahmed El Ghoneimy and Ahmed Refaat for their feedback and contributions toward developing the workshop.

Selection and Program: Mai Elwakil