The 18th edition of the Egyptian National Film Festival will kick off 5 December at the Cairo Opera House with the Iraqi film Al-Qadissiya (1981), directed by Egypt's Salah Abou Seif.
The film is based on a novel by Ali Ahmed Baktheer and takes its name from the battle of Al-Qadissiya, which was fought in 636 during the Islamic expansion era.
Al-Qadissiya stars Souad Hosni, Ezzat El-Alaily and Laila Taher from Egypt; Shaza Salem, Qanaan Wasfi and Qaed El-Noamany from Iraq; Mohamed El-Mansour from Kuwait; and Hala Shawkat from Syria. The script was written by Egypt's Mahfouz Abdel-Rahman.
The festival, which runs between 5 and 12 December, showcases Egyptian films produced in 2012 and 2013. Out of 24 feature films to be screened this year, the selection includes Mohamed Khan's Factory Girl, Ayten Amin's Villa 69, Mohamed Shaker's Hatouly Ragel, Maggie Morgan's 'Asham, Youssry Nasrallah's After the Battle, Ahmad Abdalla's Rags and Tatters and Sameh Abdel-Aziz's Halawet Al-Rouh, of which a recent court order overuled a previous decision that barred its release.
Yehia El-Fakharany will head the jury on feature films and Kamal Ramzy, a film critic, will head the jury on shorts, documentaries and animation films.
The festival announced that it will honour five Egyptians who have left a mark on the cinema industry: director Raafat El-Meihy, actor Samir Sabry, late actress Maaly Zayed, film critic Youssef Sherif Rizkallah, and director Fouad El-Tohamy.
Meanwhile, the head of the festival, director Samir Seif, announced that he will dedicate this year's edition to Sabah, Lebanon's iconic singer/actress who died last week.