In the chilly autumn wet weather of the coastal city of Alexandria, tens of filmmakers and critics are participating in a series of activities in the 36th edition of the Alexandrian Mediterranean Film Festival, held between 7-12 November.
Held in honour of veteran Egyptian actor Ezzat El-Alaili, the prestigious event, continuing until Thursday, is holding a series of film screenings and competitions.
There is also honouring ceremonies and symposiums, in addition to workshops at various venues including the Renaissance Cinema, the Center for Freedom and Creativity, and the Alexandria Atelier.
Because of the rainy weather, the opening ceremony, prepared at an open-air hall on Saturday, has faced a last-minute cancelation.
"Festivals are about cinema and activities. Opening and closing shows is not the core," the festival's president Al-Amir Abazatold reporters, while stressing the importance of following the country's global safety measures to avoid the spreading of the global pandemic.
On Sunday, the festival celebrated the work of late director of photography Abdel-Aziz Fahmy, iconic actor Farid Shawky, actor Salah Abdallah, director Inas El-Deghidi and others.
There was also a gala screening of Qabel Lel-Kasr (Fragile), made by the well known Egyptian director Ahmed Rashwan, starring Hanan Motawie.
Monday highlights included the honouring of Ezzat El-Alaili, a former jury member of the festival, who has starred in over 300 films, TV series, and theatre plays since the 1960s. He stated his appreciation for the festival and its board.
"It was a challenging career that turned into a giving journey," the 85-year-old actor - whose last appearance was in 2019's Qaid A'aely (Family Registration) TV series – said during the ceremony, thanking each and everyone that supported his work.
El-Alaily's legacy includes many classic films like El-Tareiq Ela Eilat (The Road to Eilat) and El-Toot Wi El-Nabbout (The Berries and the Cudgel), as well as many appearances in Youssef Chahine's films including Al-Ard (The Land) where he played a leading role.
With Lebanon being the guest of honour this year, a number of Lebanese productions are been screened, in addition to celebrating the 100th anniversary of Felleni and Farid Shawky.
This year, the 12 films competing in the Mediterranean Long Narrative Competition are My Lake (Albania), Fragile (Egypt), Pari (Greece), Pescamare (Italy), By Chance (Lebanon), Missing (Lebanon), The Punch (Morocco), Take Me Somewhere Nice (Netherlands), Don't Forget To Breathe (Slovenia), Window To The Sea (Spain), Mare (Switzerland), and Dark Cloud (Syria).
The French Italian actress Angelique Cavallarie is leading the jury that also includes Spanish Filmmaker Marc Serena, Moroccan director of photography Daoud Wlad El-Sayed, Italian actress Marzia Tedeschi, and Egyptian director Inas El-Degheidi.
Alongside Berlin-based correspondent Karsten Kastelan, Egyptian actress Salwa Mohamed Ali, and director Assad Fouladkar comprise the jury for the short competitions that will choose between 20 participating films from various countries.
Egypt resumed public cultural activities in July following the COVID-19 lockdown, with all events held under strict measures that include social distancing, obligatory facemasks, and sanitising. However, this week saw concerns over the noticeable increase in recorded cases in the artistic community.
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