The second El-Gouna Film Festival will take place this from 20 to 28 September in the Red Sea resort town, with 80 films to be screened, including 11 world premieres.
A selection of the 80 films will participate in the festival's three main competitions: short films, documentaries and the feature narrative. A number of movies will be screened outside of the competition.
Thirty-eight countries are represented by the films being screened, but this year will see a particularly strong presence from French cinema, with over 29 of the 80 films produced by French movie-makers, or made with French participation.
“French cinema is dominant all over the world and it is only natural that it has a strong presence at El-Gouna Festival,” Amir Ramses, artistic director of the festival commented to Ahram Online.
The second edition of the festival will also honour Egyptian director Dawoud Abdel Sayed and Tunisian producer Dora Bouchoucha, for their achievements.
The festival is on track to gaining recognition within the next few years as one of the key new international film festivals. This year, the festival’s prize money has doubled to $150,000 in total, and $120,000 of that comes from partners and sponsors, an important sign that the festival is on the right in terms of its international recognition.
This year’s festival also features a number of other elements.
The CineGouna SpringBoard is a project development lab that provides opportunities for Arab filmmakers to obtain financial and creative support.
Springboard has received 145 submissions, out of which 12 projects were selected for development, and six for post-production. Films were selected based on their content, artistic vision and overall financial feasibility.
The CineGouna Bridge, meanwhile, is a forum for Arab and international filmmakers to converse, connect and form links across the cinema industry. Activities include roundtables, workshops, master classes and discussions with key industry professionals and experts.
This year, the role of cinema in social and political issues will form a key centre point of discussion, particularly in its potentiality to foster awareness and positive change.
Also this year, Cinema for Humanity will run panels on two significant topics: refugee stories in film, and the role of women in film. The first panel will explore the human stories behind the statistics, and will be moderated by Variety film critic Jay Weissberg.
The panel on women will be moderated by the indomitable Dora Bouchoucha, the first female Tunisian producer, and will explore how film can be mobilised in the effort for gender equality, and the ways in which it can both recreate and reinforce women's social roles.
Two further panels will explore practical topics: one will look at alternative sources of funding, and the second, at the readiness of the Middle East and North Africa to embrace digital entertainment, and how producers can approach challenges accompanying new forms of production.
There will also be a master class from director, writer and producer Paul Haggis. He wrote the screenplay for and produced Million Dollar Baby (2004) and wrote, produced and directed Crash (2006); both films won the Academy Award for Best Picture.
He will present in-depth tips and tricks on writing and directing, as well as sharing his extensive experience in the craft of filmmaking.
In addition, a three-day workshop will be offered by award-winning directors Keith Fulton and Lou Pepe, focusing on story development and characterisation in both feature and documentary films.
Lastly, Gianfranco Angelucci, who worked alongside Fellini as a script-writer and director for more than twenty years, will be offering his experiences and behind-the-scenes insights on the Italian master’s works. To honour the 25th anniversary of Fellini's passing, the festival will be screening two iconic Fellini films: Roma, and 8½.
This year also marks the tenth anniversary of the passing of legendary Egyptian director Youssef Chahine, as well as the 100th anniversary of the birth of acclaimed Swedish director Ingmar Bergman.
Chahine’s film The Emigrant will be screened, and a special exhibition of original movie posters and collectibles from his films will be on display.
A concert conducted by maestro Hesham Gabr will be held on 23 September celebrating the best-known music from Chahine’s films, arranged by Gabr, in addition to original pieces.
The restored versions of Bergman’s masterpieces Persona and Strawberries will also be screened, and there will also be an exhibition, which has been held previously in several countries, presenting pictures, videos and posters that document some of his iconic work.
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