Organisers of the 36th edition of the Cairo International Film Festival – set to take place from 9-18 November – held the first press conference for the event on Wednesday evening at the Cairo Opera House to announce the opening film and other details.
Samir Farid, renowned film critic and festival president, told members of the press that this year's festival will have a different approach than previous editions as his team includes young filmmakers and critics who are bringing fresh energy to Cairo's oldest film festival.
The team includes veteran Egyptian filmmaker Yousry Nassrallah, directors Ahmad Abdalla (Microphone, Rags and Tatters), Ahmed Maher, Maggie Morgan (Asham, 2012) and Hala Galal, as well as film critic Joseph Fahim.
Farid also announced that the festival's opening film will be German-born Turkish director Fatih Akin's The Cut. The film is set during the first World War and follows the events of the Armenian genocide during the Ottoman Empire's collapse.
The festival has renamed the Lifetime Achievement Award to the Naguib Mahfouz Award, which will be given to five individuals, four of which were announced. The only Egyptian to receive the award will be actress Nadia Loutfy, honoured for her exceptional contribution to Egyptian cinema, her support to first time directors and her political involvements in the past.
The award will also be given to Moroccan film critic and Marrakech Festival founder Noureddine Saeel, German director Volker Schlöndorff (who is both an Oscar and Cannes Palme d'Or winner) and former French culture minister Jack Lang, who played a role in securing French support for Egyptian and Arab cinema and culture.
Loutfy was also the main inspiration for the Cairo Film Festival poster, which features the top of her face with an emphasis on her striking eyes staring into the camera, as captured from her appearance with Abdel-Halim Hafez in Aby Fawq Al-Shagara (1969).
The poster's designer, visual artist Karim Adam, explained to the press that the focus on Loutfy was to capture the eyes reflecting the lens of the camera in cinema.
36th Cairo Internaitonal Film Festival Poster
The festival will also feature an Industry Forum in parallel to the screenings, following the model of other international film festivals, where filmmakers can meet with potential distributors and producers.
Previously this forum was dubbed the Film Market and was a platform for selling Egyptian films abroad and buying international films for Egypt's market. According to Farid, in the past there was never any activity in this platform since the Egyptian market is only open to local films and Hollywood productions.
The festival's artistic director Mohamed Samir says the forum will be supportive of the local independent industry. Participants will get to screen excerpts of their films to distributors in addition to providing them with names and contact information.