The fortieth edition of the Cairo International Film Festival, which takes place from 20-29 November, will open with a screening of new film Green Book starring Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali at the Cairo Opera House on Tuesday.
One of the largest festivals in the Arab world, the Cairo International Film Festival (CIFF) will see more than 160 films from 60 countries screened, including 16 world premieres.
The festival’s Main Competition jury committee will be headed by prominent Danish film director Bille August who is among the very few directors who have received the Palm d’Or award twice at the Cannes Film Festival. The committee will choose the film that will receive the highest award in the festival, the Golden Pyramid.
Other competitions include Arab Horizons, Critics’ Week and Tomorrow’s Cinema, with the first focusing on films from the Arab world and the other three looking at international cinema.
This jubilee edition of the festival promises numerous new features and developments, with president Mohamed Hefzy putting a lot of hope on the festival’s development.
A highly successful scriptwriter and producer, founder and director of the Film Clinic production house, Hefzy (born in 1975) is the youngest president to have been appointed to this post in the festival’s history.
This brings a hope that under his management, this edition will create a change that has been long awaited by the Egyptian cinema community and especially young filmmakers who over the past few editions have felt disconnected from the government-run event.
Hefzy has invited numerous young and established independent filmmakers from Egypt and the Arab region to participate in the festival with their films, underscoring that “this festival is your festival.”
As such, numerous films will be screened, with a focus on Arab cinema created through the competitive Arab Horizons section showcasing a large assortment of films from Egypt, Morocco, Lebanon, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, giving the viewers an opportunity to see the developments of the region’s cinematic practices, its trends, interests and talents.
The section will include a total of eight new films (seven feature films and a documentary) with highlights from Tunisian Mahmoud bin Mahmoud and his new controversial film Fatwa, Egyptian Amir el Shenaway’s first movie Kilo 64, and Amra and the Second Marriage by Saudi director Mahmoud Sabbagh, his second film after his successful Barakah Meets Barakah.
It is also in Hefzy’s plans to bring back the vibrant international connections that used to exist between CIFF and the world’s cinema industry, opening the doors for a lot of networking opportunities and creative and professional interactions.
In the second half of the festival, between 25 and 29 November, the event will hold Cairo Industry Days. Organised for the first time in the festival’s history, the industry days aim at providing its participants with important opportunities for discussions, meetings, training and workshops in various areas of the industry.
The platform includes three main events: the EAVE -European Audiovisual Entrepreneurs / BMS - Birthmark Scenario, script Development Lab; Screen Buzz Cairo TV workshop and Global Media Makers Summit which will run on 28 and 28 November and focus on the discussions of the programme’s contribution to filmmakers’ careers and its positive effect on what they have achieved so far.
The festival has also added the People’s Choice Award for the first time in its history with the award amounting $20,000 for the film which gets a majority vote from the Cairo audience. A new award entitled “Best Arab Film” with a value of $15,000 has also been added to this year’s festival.
Another new addition are midnight screenings organised in the Zamalek cinema, showcasing thrillers, science fiction and horror movies over the seven nights of the festival.
Nine movies directed by Arab women will be screened within the festival activities. The discussion panel will include five female directors who have been recognised internationally within the last few years: Annemarie Jacir from Palestine, Sofia Djama from Algeria, Kaouthar Ben Hania from Tunisia, and Hala Khalil and Hala Lotfy from Egypt.
The Russian film industry has taken leaps forward in the post-Soviet era. In recognition of that fact, CIFF will host a high-level delegation whose members will shed light on the current state of Russian cinema and its endeavours to reach international audiences.
The festival will also commemorate the 100th birthday of renowned author Ihsan Abdel Qodous. Four movies based on his novels were restored and will be screened, and a book about the author by critic Sameh Fathy will be published and distributed during the festival.
Among this year’s honorees are British actor Ralph Fiennes and veteran Egyptian actor Hassan Hosny, whose long career of more than 50 years has enriched the silver screen, television and theatre.
The composer Hassan Nazih will be awarded the Excellence Award (given to mid-career artists who have made achievements of creative excellence).
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