By Lama Abdel Barr
Film and graphic design are two new majors offered by the American University in Cairo (AUC). The programs will be available for undergraduate students as of Fall 2012.
Malek Khouri, director of AUC’s film program, assures The Independent that the new film major will be a leading and unique one in Egypt and the Arab world. He regards Egyptian cinema as the third most important cinema in the world, after Hollywood and Bollywood respectively.
“The least we could do as a leading liberal arts university is to introduce the film major,” says Khouri.
Besides the importance of introducing the major to the cinematic realm, Khouri emphasizes its importance to Arab culture, and Egyptian culture in particular.
Egypt has long taken pride in its contributions to cinema. “Some claim that the first film ever shot [Leaving the Factory] by the Lumiere brothers was shot in Alexandria,” said Khouri.
The undergraduate film program is divided into what Khouri deems “the three most important areas of study in cinema”. These three areas are: a study of film production, a study of film history and theory, and a study of film cultural industries, providing awareness on how to enter the film business in Egypt and on how to understand the film industry locally and internationally.
“I’d definitely consider the major knowing that it would give me a lot of opportunities to work in the Egyptian film industry,” said Jude Benhalim, an undeclared freshman, who finds this aspect of the program particularly appealing.
Demand for the film major is expected to be high. Khouri has noted a “genuine interest” shared by students, especially those who are pursuing and have pursued film minors, to further pursue a Film major.
“I think it’s great that they’re giving film students an opportunity to explore their passion in film,” added Benhalim, who is pursuing a Film minor.
Despite the estimated high demand, acceptance will be limited. Khouri explains that the approximate number of students who will be accepted will range from 15 to 20 students.
Preparations have been made to accommodate the film major. A second full-time position for a film professor is to be added to the small number of existing adjunct faculty.
In addition, Khouri indicates that extra equipment and facilities are to be provided to advance the various stages of film production that will be taught, such as cinematography, editing, and screenwriting.
The other major that will be offered by AUC next semester is graphic design. With a rising market demand for design and networking agencies, AUC has realized the need to cater to the demand through offering an undergraduate program in graphic design.
“With a minor, you did not graduate with enough knowledge to know what graphic design was all about,” explains Noor Ibrahim, Art and Film Coordinator. “With a major, you’ll be able to design your own independent projects even before graduating,” adds Ibrahim.
The proposal for the major declares that the major will “enable the design student to integrate a good command or visual language with conceptual work, theory and technology” through both theory and studio courses.
Ibrahim guarantees that new faculty members, who are themselves practicing graphic designers, are to be hired as graphic design professors. Also, existing studio spaces are to be used for graphic design related purposes.
Some of the possible career paths with a degree in graphic design include publication, branding, web and broadcast design, exhibition and type design.