On the occasion of the imminent launch of YEMA, the first French-speaking video-on-demand platform dedicated to the best of Oriental films and series, we met the founders of this marvellous project : Juliette Gamonal, Léa Taïeb and Marine Zana, who gave us a foretaste of what awaits us very soon on our screens.
To all film lovers, cinema students and fans of Oriental cultures : get ready, YEMA is coming!
- Hello ! Could you introduce Yema and your respective backgrounds ?
Hello and thank you for your unfailing interest in cultural diversity.
In one sentence, YEMA is a VOD platform dedicated to the best movies and series from the East.
To tell you more, each month, we will propose a new selection. Each month, we will highlight a new theme.
Each month, we will highlight a new perspective through the interview of a personality to understand better the monthly theme, the movies and their context.
As a pro-dialogue platform, YEMA will give to the spectators the opportunity to express themselves, to criticize and to engage in debate.
We are three complementary personalities behind this project. Juliette Gamonal, in charge of programming and external relations, who manages marketing and communication at Films du Losange, a French films distribution company. Léa Taieb is in charge of communication and editorial. She also works as a freelance journalist. Marine Zana, in charge of administrative and financial matters, has been working for several years in the field of cultural sponsorship.
- Tell us about the process of making such a project a reality !
To answer such a question, we would need hours (and a lot of saliva).
To begin with, we are three movie lovers with a passion for Eastern cultures. Together, we wanted to give access to a diversity of views, to highlight audiovisual productions from the East. Very quickly, we realised that YEMA could be adopted by different audiences, different personalities. It should be noted that on other generalist platforms, the creations related to the East are rare and poorly promoted.
Iran, 2021 Bir Başkadır, Turkey, 2020
Today, we are working on communication. How can we make YEMA and its vocation known? To do this, we regularly publish on social media according to a well-defined editorial line : discovery by theme, by desire. We have also launched a newsletter, an opportunity for us to maintain a special relationship with our future subscribers. Finally, we are counting on some choice allies to evolve and promote discovery.
We are also very mobilised on the creation of the platform, the editorialization of the contents, the catalogue and the customer amazement.
To ensure our development, the LINCC Paris&Co incubator, specialised in digital, cultural and creative industries, is supporting us.
- When and how did you come up with the idea of launching a VOD platform specifically for Eastern films ?
While discussing, we realized that there was no French-speaking platform bringing together films and series from the Eastern world. In 2021, only award-winning feature films are given special attention on VOD platforms. The rest is forgotten. « What if we go further in the discovery of this cultural diversity ? » is the question we asked ourselves in March 2021.
We didn’t want to be a simple VOD platform either, we wanted to be a space for exchange and discussion. That’s why we wanted to offer additional content to go further, to continue to explore the universe of the film viewed. We also wanted to give a voice to the viewers by allowing them to rate and criticize the content, to be active.
- Why did you choose the name « Yema » for your project?
« Yema » refers to the « mother » or « grandmother » in Arabic. « Ima » is her Hebrew cousin. She is a strong guardian figure regardless of time and culture. Our mother to all.
Yema tells stories. She gives goosebumps, softens hearts, provokes laughter and shares her knowledge.
Yema transmits stories to the following generations. It ensures the survival of stories, characters, cultures and societies. It is our collective memory.
Yema recites fables, with ardor or wisdom, without ever getting lost in moral lessons. With her knowledge-power, she enlightens our minds.
Yema brings together her children, her grandchildren and those around her. She takes the world in her arms. She reconciles siblings who no longer talk to each other.
- Yema offers « oriental » films, whether they belong to Arab, Turkish or Persian cultures. What are the geographical limits of your platform?
We mainly cover the countries of the Maghreb, Near and Middle East. In the long term, we will be able to welcome some « non-Oriental » creations whose themes are linked to the Orient.
Turkey, 2018 Algeria, 2019 Iran, 2019
- How do you choose films and/or filmmakers ? Does your approach favor films made by women filmmakers ?
When we launch, our catalog will be categorized by themes, by social issues. We will try to represent a diversity of filmmakers (regardless of their gender identity). The works will come from different countries, different cultures. We want to make visible the productions and filmmakers who have not had the right to the light in France.
Nadine Labaki, Capharnaüm Elia Suleiman, It Must Be Heaven Laïla Marrakchi, Rock the Casbah Asghar Farhadi, A Separation Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis
- Each month, you wish to highlight a particular theme, explored by five films and a personality specialized in that theme. What will be the first themes proposed to the public ?
You are very curious and you are right to be ! The first theme of YEMA will be Women in Eastern societies. We will explore the status of women in Eastern societies, between the weight of traditions, obstacles to freedom and desire for emancipation.
It is Leïla Slimani, French-Moroccan writer and 2016 Goncourt Prize winner, who takes the floor to create bridges between the different films and cultures, but also, to bring out divergences. And a little anecdote : the shooting of the interview took place at the Louxor (long live the neo-Egyptian atmosphere) during one of the confinements.
We will also talk about popular uprisings, armed conflicts, laughter to the point of tears and family, that bloody mess.
- In addition to films and series, you also mentioned other content, such as interviews with directors and actors. Can you tell us more ?
Each month, YEMA viewers will be able to discover a new theme and associated films. Each month, they will be able to go further in the discovery by watching a video specially conceived for our platform (the interview of a personality specialist of the theme).
But that’s not all. We will give access to a series of resources to discover the backstage of the film or the series. Bonuses, interviews, articles made by us. We will constantly create new content to amaze our subscribers’ curiosity.
- You also mentioned events and written productions that will be proposed in parallel with the platform : what are they?
Yes, we would like to expand the editorial part by organizing face-to-face and digital events such as masterclasses, screenings and debates, oriental nights on specific themes. We will also propose new formats that you will discover in 2022.
We also plan to launch a quarterly magazine in 2023. It will serve to deepen the themes and contents proposed on the platform. It would be a form of continuity to still and always transmit, deconstruct, discuss. We are also thinking of launching a podcast about the intimate, about the creative process of filmmakers, about the values that drive them to act.
- Finally… when will we be able to watch a film on Yema ? We can’t wait !
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👉 Check out the ideal film library we’ve put together on Yema ! 👈
(coming very soon !)
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Prices : 3.99 euros for one film, and we are preparing offers from 5 films purchased (to be discovered very soon !)