Following six successful editions of the Panorama of the European Film, Zawya Cinema was established in March 2014 as one of the first independent cinemas in Egypt, aiming to fill a much-needed gap in Cairo’s cinematic and cultural scene.
With a program split between theatrical releases and curated programs, Zawya screens a diverse selection of films from across the globe, varying from feature films, shorts, documentaries, to experimental works and retrospectives. Zawya’s program also focuses on local independent films to encourage and promote the work of young Egyptian and Arab filmmakers across different platforms.
In addition to its regular program, Zawya organizes two annual film festivals: the Panorama of the European Film and Zawya Shorts.
In 2015, Zawya launched its distribution arm, aiming to create an alternative distribution model bridging the gap between independent films and their audience through targeted and encompassing strategies. Zawya Distribution works to give films a long shelf life, traversing past the theatrical release, with a strong exhibition on TV channels, VOD and other ancillary forms of distribution including non-commercial releases.
In 2016, Zawya organized an Art-house Cinema Management workshop, through which weekly screenings and film programs emerged in three other cities: Alexandria, Port Said and Ismailia. This activity lasted from 2016 to 2019.
Following four successful years of operating a single screen in Cinema Odeon, Zawya relocated in September 2018 to Downtown’s Cinema Karim to manage two screens with a combined capacity of 387 seats. Zawya is a member of the Network of Arab Alternative Screens (NAAS) and is supported by Misr International Films.
Located at 15 Emad El Deen Street, Downtown, Cinema Karim is Zawya’s new home as of September 2018. Originally named Cinema Femina, founded during the 1940’s, then later Cinema Capitol in the 1960’s, and finally Karim. For a brief period during the 1980’s it was managed by Misr International Films in partnership with producer Hussein El Qalla.
“The famous cinemas of the thirties were on Emad El Dine Street, there was the imperial next to Empire, in front of cinéma Gaumont [Palace], which became Fémina, I particularly remember it because the hall was underground” — Berto Farhi
At the time, Youssef Chahine looked over the renovations dividing the theatre into two screens, in order to dedicate Karim 2’s programming to more arthouse and less mainstream films.
Finally, Zawya has taken over another series of renovations before its move to Karim in 2018, now with 2 screens (314 seats and 73 seats) and currently offers the latest digital projection technology.
“We danced rumba, foxtrot slow and tango during the entracte at Roxy, an open air cinema in a garden with tables and chairs, like a café. The Fémina on Emad El Din street was famous for showing French and English films. There, I watched Sous le ciel de Paris” — Spectator circa 1937
“Each cinema hall had its particularities. Usually the audience was given a countermark ticket during the entract, but at Cinema Fémina that wasn’t the case. So we would wait for the entract to enter with a cake in hand, as if we had been there since the start.” — Salah Abou Seif
Head of Distribution
Head of Programming
Head of Marketing and Cinema Development
Head of Festival | Panorama of the European Film
Head of Program | Panorama of the European Film
Deputy Cinema Manager