The Marina Theatre saw an array of big names on Thursday for the opening ceremony of the El Gouna Film Festival, including Naguib Sawiris, El-Gouna founder Samih Sawiris, CEO and co-founder of the festival Amr Mansi, COO and festival co-founder Bushra Abdallah Rozza, CEO of Orascom Development Holding Khaled Bichara, festival director Intishal Al Timimi and director Amir Ramses.
Among the other celebrities of the red carpet were actors Ahmed Al-Fishawi, Ahmed Dawoud and his wife Ola Roushdy, Amr Youssef and his wife Kenda Alloush, Yousra, Laila Elwi, Dorra Zarrouk, Mona Zaki, Rania Youssef, Sherry Adel, and Amina Khalil.
Also present was Egyptian-Canadian star Mena Massoud, who plays Aladdin in this year’s remake of the Disney classic.
The third edition of the festival runs from 19 to 27 September,
The ceremony began with a performance by actor and stand-up comedian Akram Hosny.
Then festival director Intishal Al Timimi gave a speech about the festival’s section of films from all around the world, especially films that have been screened at the most prestigious film festivals, like the Cannes and Venice festivals.
“Every day of the upcoming nine days will hold new pleasures regarding the film choices, these films are world acclaimed and winning films from the most prestigious film festivals around the world like; Cannes, Venice, Berlin and Locarno,” he said.
He also highlighted the Cinema in Concert program in collaboration with the American embassy in Egypt, which will feature a concert titled Homage à Nino Rota celebrating compositions for Federico Fellini and Luchino Visconti films and will be conducted by Ahmed El Saedi, the founder and chairman of the Egyptian Philharmonic Society.
During the ceremony, actress Mona Zaki was announced as a UNICEF Ambassador of Goodwill. A collaboration between the film festival and UNICEF aims at discussing children’s issues and rights.
Massoud presented the Moroccan actress Nesreen El-Rady with an award from his Ethnically Diverse Artists Foundation for her role in the film Adam, which tells the story of three women from North Africa.
The Palestinian filmmaker Mai Masri received the Career Achievement Award during the ceremony, which was given to her by Palestinian director Hany Abu-Assad. A short documentary about Masri about her beginnings using her camera on the streets of Palestine was filmed.
The festival’s jury members were also announced. The Feature Film Competition jury will be headed by the Egyptian filmmaker Khairy Beshara and will include Masri, the Sydney Film Festival’s Nasheen Moodley, sound engineer Resul Pookuty and the Russian film critic Stas Tyrkin.
The jury for the Feature Documentary Competition is headed by Senegalese filmmaker Moussa Touré and includes filmmaker and producer Anne Again, the programmer of the Rotterdam International Film Festival Ludmilla Cvikova, Syrian filmmaker Talal Derki and Egyptian costume designer Nahed Nasrallah.
Marwan Hamed will head the jury for the Short Films Competition, and the other members will be Tunisian actress Dorra Zarrouk, Colombian-Belgian filmmaker Juanita Onzaga, film director of Tampere Film Festival Jukka-Pekka Laakso, and Iraqi filmmaker Mohamed Al-Daradji.
The ceremony ended with the a show by the Lebanese Mayyas dance troupe accompanied by fireworks.
The opening ceremony also featured the screening of the new American film Ad Astra, starring Brad Pitt and Liv Tyler, which follows the story of an astronaut searching for the truth behind his missing father, and is directed by James Gray.