The Cairo International Film Festival (CIFF, 20-29 November) announced Mexico as the country in focus with numerous events dedicated to the country and its film industry.
Two filmmakers will be honoured during the festival: screenwriter-director Guillermo Arriaga and filmmaker Michel Franco.
Arriaga is an Oscar-nominated director and winner of Cannes' Palme D'or for Best Screenplay. The screenwriter of Babel, 21 Grams and Amores Perros will be giving an extended, three-hour masterclass on script writing.
Filmmaker Gabriel Ripstein is winner of the Best Debut Award at the Berlinale in 2015 and son of director Arturo Ripstein, who made the Mexican version of Naguib Mahfouz’s The Beginning and the End.
The country in focus will also include an open dialogue with filmmaker Carlos Reygadas, former Cannes' jury member and winner of Cannes' Best Director Award.
Screenwriter-director Franco, who won Cannes’ Un Certain Regard twice as well as a Best Screenplay Award, also at Cannes, will be a jury member of the International Competition.
In the official press release, the organisers of the CIFF quoted the festival president, Mohamed Hefzy, as saying: “One can draw a lot of parallels between Mexican and Egyptian cinema throughout the ages. Both countries had a golden age that produced not only timeless classics appreciated not only domestically, but in neighbouring countries and sometimes internationally as well. Both went through a decline, artistically and in terms of production capacity. Yet a new wave of Mexican filmmakers helped propel Mexican cinema into a new golden age, whereas in Egypt the signs of a vibrant, new independent film scene began to promise some hope. At such crossroads, one has to look to our distant counterpart and take inspiration and recipes for how to replicate this success domestically.”
The connection with Egypt, Hefzy added, extends to the core of the content as well, with two of its most important film scripts based on novels by Nobel Laureate Naguib Mahfouz.
Mexican Ambassador to Cairo Jose Octavio Tripp expressed his gratitude on behalf of the Mexican Embassy for the CIFF decision to select Mexico as the country in focus of the 41st edition.
"This decision is an honour for Mexico and its film industry and also an important incentive to explore areas of collaboration between Mexico, Africa and the Middle East. The Cairo Film Festival is opening a window of opportunity to promote a new area of bilateral cooperation considering the enormous prestige of Egypt as a filmmaking nation and the presence of experts of both film communities in Cairo this November."