The Luxor African Film Festival (LAFF) kicks off its eighth edition Friday in an opening ceremony in Karnak Temple in the southern city, with many filmmakers and celebrities attending. The opening film will be 'The Burial of Kojo' from Ghana, by director Michael Fernandez.
Founded by screenwriter Sayed Fouad, the event will take place 15-21 March hosting 105 guests from 36 African countries and 13 non-African countries, screening 385 films from Africa and other continents, and with 102 films competing in the festival's various contests.
Under guidance of Minister of Culture Enas Abdel-Dayem, Qena governorate will be hosting some of the festival's activities as well, festival director Azza El-Hossiny revealed.
Many well known Egyptian actors have confirmed their attendence at the opening, including Mahmoud Hemida, Lebleba, Elham Shahin, Asser Yassin and Karim Abdel-Aziz, with the event aired on various African channels and the state-owned channel Nile Cinema.
This edition is named after the late Burkinabè director Idrissa Ouédraogo who directed 21 films, varying between short and long features that are considered some of the greatest works of Sub-Saharan African cinema, the most notable of which is Tilaï (The Law), which was awarded the Grand Prix at Cannes Film Festival in 1990, and Samba Traoré, which was nominated for the Golden Bear in 1993 at the 43rd edition of Berlin Film Festival.
As the organising NGO, the Independent Shabab Foundation (ISF), explains, the festival "aims to support and encourage African film productions and partnerships between the countries of the continent through strengthening the humanitarian and political ties between the peoples of Africa in general and African artists in particular."
They chose Luxor city since the first edition in 2012 because "it is the largest open-air museum in the world and it was lacking artistic festivals" and because of "its geographical position in the very heart of Upper Egypt and hence closer to the rest of the African continent."
LAFF is sponsored by the Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Tourism and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with exclusive media sponsorship by DMC TV Network and in cooperation with the governorate of Luxor, the Syndicate of Cinema and the National Bank of Egypt.
Tribute to Lebleba, Asser Yassin and others
With more than 86 roles in various successful films, actress Lebleba will be honoured in the LAFF's eighth edition "for her long and rich career in cinema," winning a series of awards with four for Osama Fawzy's 'Devil's Paradise Only'.
A jury member of 16 different Arab and international festivals, Lebleba also won awards Atef Al-Tayeb's 'Against the Government' and 'Hot Night' as well as Youssef Chahine's 'The Other' and 'Alexandria, New York,' to name a few.
"I adore Luxor the city, with its monuments, landmarks and beautiful nature, and that LAFF which is held in Luxor, is a very organised festival, as I've been a recurring guest since its inauguration, and I was always filled with joy being at the most beautiful part of Egypt, Luxor," Lebleba commented to the festival's official website.
"As for my tribute by LAFF, it means a lot to me; to feel the appreciation for my long career which I started at the age of five, and haven't steered away from, for even a moment — stages shifting in my career as I grow in years and experience. To be honoured by my home country, in the most beautiful place of my country, it's a major honour and I thank LAFF for it," she added.
Another tribute will be for young star Asser Yassine, with an outstanding film career of over 20 titles, including 'Messages of the Sea', 'Walls of the Moon', 'The Promise', 'The Island' and "Diamond Dust'.
"When I had the honour of being a member of the long narrative film jury during the festival's previous edition, I witnessed firsthand the importance of the festival and how influential it is as a major meeting event for filmmakers from Africa. It attracts the most important African films, as well as young African filmmakers, which makes it one of the most renowned festivals in the continent," he stated, expressing pleasure at his tribute.
LAFF will also honour Chadian director Mahamat-Saleh Haroun "for his contributions to African cinema" as his feature debut 'Bye Bye Africa' (1999) was the first feature film to ever be produced in Chad, winning the best first feature film award in Venice before his third feature, 'Dry Season' (2006), won the Grand Jury Special Prize in Venice and 'A Screaming Man' (2010) won the Jury Prize at Cannes.
Tunisian producer Dorra Bouchoucha will also be honoured during the opening ceremony "for her contribution in creating a Tunisian New Wave" while Burkinabé director Fanta Régina Nacro will be celebrated as a leading African woman in the film industry, while Egyptian director Omar Abdel-Aziz and Sudanese singer Faiza Amseeb will also be celebrated, along with a special tribute to Tunisian cinema.
The long feature jury will comprise many outstanding names, such as Malian director Cheick Oumar Sissoko, Moroccan director Nour-Eddine Lakhmari and Egyptian musician Rageh Daoud.
The long documentary jury will include Senegalese director Mansour Sora Wade, Tunisian scriptwriter Tarek Ben Chaabane, Congolese director Dieudo Hamadi, Egyptian director Amir Ramses and Egyptian writer Yehya Azmy.
The Freedom Films jury will include French critic Olivier Barlet, Lebanese filmmaker Sam Lahoud, Syrian actor Bassel Khayyat and Egyptian director Sherif Mandour.
The short films jury consists of Rwandan director Samuel Ishimwe, Burundian director Léonce Ngabo, Egyptian director Mohamed Kamel Tunisian, critic Insaf Ouhiba and Egyptian actress Amina Khalil.
In the long narrative contests, films competing including Captive (South Africa) by David Kabale, Ext. Night (Egypt/UAE) by Sherif Alfy, Fate (Ghana) by Wanda Quartey, INDIGO (Morocco) by Yohann Charrin, Mabata Bata (Portugal/Mozambique) by Jorge Quintela, Regarde moi (Tunisia/France/Qatar) by Hazem Berrabah, Sew The Winter To My Skin (South Africa) by Jonathan Kovel, The Healer (Morocco) by Luca Coassin and Until The End Of Time (Algeria) by Semcheddine Touzene and Amine Chouikh.
In the long documentary section, Boxing Libreville, Dreamaway, Fiifiiré in Cuballo Country, Freedom Fields, GAO, Resistance of A People, Ghzela, Lost Warrior, Making Ends Meet, Migrants and Whispering Truth To Power are all competing.
The Freedom Films contest includes A Dreamed Love, Alganesh, Forgiveness: Secret of Peace, Golden Fish, African Fish, Home Of The Rivers, Robin, The Borrowed Dress, The Mercy of the Jungle, The Rainbow Experiment and Urgent.
In the short films section, 80 Plus, Ales, Dagu, Kazungu, LA POUPEE, Losing My Religion, Luna, Ma coepouse bien-aimee, Point Zero, Requiem, Sega, Serotonin, The Same Degree, Timoura, Tithes & Offerings, Waltz of Dawn and Yasmina will compete.
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