There's no dampening the enthusiasm from fantastic cinema around the world and one of the newer events to get in on the act is the Maskoon Fantastic Film Festival, which is the only festival that introduces genre cinema to the Arab world.
The Lebanese festival opened its 2nd edition with Tarik Saleh's The Nile Hilton Incident on September 13th and wrapped up four days later, when it handed out the awards to its first ever Lebanese short film competition, which seeks to encourage local filmmakers to tackle genre cinema.
Taking the Maskoon prize among the 12 competitors was Mike Malajalian's Reprisal, which gives the film an automatic invite to the Sitges International Fantastic Film Festival next month. The Cinemox Prize, worth $1500, went to Elie Salameh's Aryan, while a special mention from the Jury was reserved for The Howl by Sandra Tebet.
The awards ceremony was followed by The Beyond Composer's Cut cine-concert, which welcomed Fabio Frizzi to Beirut for the first time as he kicks off his 2017 tour.
Some of the highlights screening at Maskoon included Screen Anarchy faves such as Liam Gavin's A Dark Song, Jung Byung-gil's The Villainess and Bill Watterson's Dave Made a Maze, not to mention a screening of Dario Argento's classic Suspiria.
Speaking of this year's festivities, Maskoon's artistic director Antoine Waked said "It was an intense but very satisfying edition, we are happy with the surprise success of this first short films competition and glad that Sitges gave us this great opportunity to launch a Lebanese genre film onto the international scene."
Concerning the status of genre cinema in the Middle East, he continued "It's still quite baffling that genre filmmaking has not been fully adopted in our region, we truly believe that the region is abundant with rich stories ideal for genre treatment and hope that with Maskoon things will start moving, this first short films competition is a promising first step."