Cairo Film Festival kicks off with a new leadership team in a dream

Cairo International Airport. The Film Festival kicks off on November 13 with the Middle East premiere of Steven Spielberg’s “The Fabelmans”, and a new leadership team that brings new energy to the great master of Arab cinema.

This year’s event is the first as a festival director for Egyptian director Amir Ramses, who was appointed earlier this year, as well as Director of Industry Reem Allam.

Ramses was chosen just weeks after Egyptian producer Mohamed Hefzy resigned as head of the festival, after a four-year period during which he helped renew the long-running event.

Hefzy has been particularly instrumental in expanding the festival’s international reach, fostering relationships with its counterparts abroad, and launching an industrial component that has rapidly established itself as one of the leading platforms for filmmakers from the region.

The forty-fourth session of the festival, which runs until November 22, kicks off amid the busy autumn calendar of Arab festivals, which are held in parallel with Marrakesh (November 11-19) and on the eve of the Red Sea Film Festival in Saudi Arabia, which is hosting its second session. Edition in Jeddah from 1-10 December.

Meanwhile, Egypt’s El Gouna Film Festival, which has taken a place in late October for five years and has brought a touch of star power to the Red Sea resort town, is on hold this year. His future is uncertain.

Talking to diverse On the eve of opening night, Ramses – who served as artistic director at El Gouna from 2017 to 2021 – described the spirit of healthy competition among the region’s festivals, which he sees as less competition than collaborators working toward a common goal of promoting Arab cinema. .

“We talk on a weekly basis about where we are, and how we can support each other,” he said. “It’s not about taking the lead. You can’t build the district on one strong festival. We compliment each other.”

In his first year in Cairo, Ramses nevertheless made sure to secure the kind of squad that helped land El Gouna on the map. Along with the regional premiere of “The Fabelmans,” it helped attract a solid roster of titles that’s already made waves on the international festival circuit.

Among the films celebrating regional premieres in Cairo is Carla Simone’s Berlin Golden Bear winner “Alcarràs”. Grand Jury Prize in Venice by Alice Diop and Laureate of the Lion of the Future “Saint Omar”; Alejandro Luisa Grisi, winner of the Sundance Grand Prix Jury “Utama”; Sally El-Husseini’s inaugural Toronto film, “The Swimmers”; And a host of award winners from this year’s Cannes Film Festival, including Lukas Dhont Grand Prix winner ‘Close’ and Jury Prize winner Jerzy Skolimowski and Riley Keough and Gina Gammell Camera d’Or winner of ‘War Pony’ .

At the same time, the longest running show of Arab cinema will look to highlight the region’s emerging and established talent. In the international competition, “19B” by Egyptian director Ahmed Abdallah, which is celebrating its world premiere, will be among the 14 titles vying for the festival’s Golden Pyramid award, including Lebanese director Ali Shari’s Fortnight bassist “The Dam”.

The film “19B” by Ahmed Abdullah had its world premiere in the international competition of the festival.
Courtesy of Cairo Film Festival

Meanwhile, the festival’s Horizons of Arab Cinema competition kicks off with the world premiere of Egyptian director Sherif El Katsha’s documentary “Away from the Nile”. Other notable performances include the world premiere of “The Family” by Algerian director Merzak Allouache, which was named diverseBest Director in the Middle East for the year 2013, and the Middle East premiere of Mounia Medawar’s “Horeya”, which arrives in Cairo after kneeling at the Rome Film Festival.

It was a remarkable year for Arab cinema, as Moroccan director and writer Mariam Touzani won the FIPRESCI Prize in Cannes for the film “The Blue Kaftan”, and the film “The Swimmers” by director Sally El Husseini opened the Toronto Film Festival, and no less than six films from the first film. – And Arab directors for the second time in the official departments in Venice.

This is no coincidence, said Andrew Mohsen, director of programming in Cairo, not only thanks to the “long effort” of other filmmakers from the region and the increasingly diverse programming teams that are clearing barriers at first-class festivals, but thanks to the work of Arab festivals like Cairo, which “ It plays an important role either through financial support … for some of these projects, or by showing some of these films for the first time.” For many Arab filmmakers, he added, “The time is now.”

The 5th Cairo Industry Days, taking place from November 17-22, will offer a wide-ranging program of keynote lessons, talks, workshops and panel discussions featuring award-winning filmmakers and industry experts from around the world.

The Cairo Film Connection co-production market will feature 15 projects from 10 countries in North Africa and the Middle East, including five from the host country. The awards will be presented on November 20 by a jury composed of Berlin International Film Festival director Mariette Rissenbeek, Egyptian director and curator Viola Shafik and Tunisian director Rajaa Ammari.


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