CAMIT Grant Profile: Egyptian Film Festival

by Lynn Heinemann, Office of the Arts
(Published in Tech Talk 3/6/1996)

Betty Lou McClanahan credits David Lean's 1962 epic film Lawrence of Arabia with shaping her life. "I was young and impressionable when I saw it," she says, explaining that the film propelled her to study Arabic at the State University of New York at Binghamton and continue with graduate work in Arabic literature at Columbia University, accept a US Department of Education fellowship at Egypt's Alexandria University and to live in Alexandria for three years.

Though her daily work-life is in the Media Lab as assistant to Professor Marvin Minsky, her love of cinema and the Arabic world found an outlet through the Grants Program run by the Council for the Arts at MIT (CAMIT). In 1986, the Council awarded Ms. McClanahan a grant to spend a week in Egypt, meeting and interviewing Youssef Chahine, Egypt's foremost film director and to arrange for him to visit MIT for a series of Egyptian films, including his newly-released Adieu Bonaparte. Mohsen Mohieddin, the lead actor of "Adieu Bonaparte" also visited MIT for Ms. McClanahan's series and seminar.

"It was the support of the Council for the Arts, and particularly, the personal encouragement of Dr. Jerome Wiesner, that enabled me to explore the cinema of Egypt, and to share it with others," Ms. McClanahan said.

The Council's initial grant was supplemented by support from the Film/Video Section, the School of Architecture and Planning, the School of Humanities and Social Science and the Technology Development Program. Non-MIT funding was provided by the Egyptian Embassy, Misr International Films, New Yorker Films and special sponsorship by the Minister of Culture of France, Jack Lang.

The success of the program encouraged Ms. McClanahan to apply for and receive additional grants from the Council for the Arts for two subsequent film series, taking place during Independent Activities Period in 1990 and 1992.

Since then, she has continued to help many organizations, including the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Ga. and the Pacific Film Archive gain access to the works of Mr. Chahine.


MIT students, staff, and faculty are all eligible to apply to the Council's Grants program which provides financial support for arts projects in all disciplines. (Note: travel funds are no longer awarded.) Friday, March 15, 1996 is the final deadline for proposals in this academic year. Applications are evaluated on the quality and innovation of the project with a particular emphasis on the potential for participation by MIT students. Grant awards may range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars.

The Council, a volunteer organization of MIT alumni and friends who are committed to the advocacy and support of cultural programs for the Institute community, has awarded over $1 million since 1974 to more than 1,000 arts projects.

Guidelines and application forms are available at E15-205. For more information, call x3-4005 or email . "If your passion is art, in any of its forms, apply for grant," urged Ms. McClanahan.


Council for the Arts Grants awarded in the last application cycle:


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