Since 2012 the Luxor African Film Festival (LAFF) has become an important annual event not only for Egypt but for the whole continent as well. Headed by screenwriter Sayed Fouad and filmmaker Azza Al-Husseini as president and director, respectively, the ninth LAFF (6-12 March) opens with Sandouk Al-Donia (Wonder Box) directed by Emad Al-Bahat from Egypt, which will also be participating in the long narrative competition. LAFF will be screening 90 films from over 30 African countries:
In the long narrative competition there will be: Desrances directed by Apolline Troare from Burkina Faso and Cote d’Ivoir; Jusqu’au Bout by Hounsou Yao Hyacinthe from Côte d’Ivoire; Innocent by Lea Malle Frank Thierry from Cameroun; Enchained by Moges Tafesse from Ethiopia; Fataria by Walid Tayaa from Tunisia and France; The white line by Desiree Kahikopo from Namibia; Atlantique by Mati Diop from Senegal, Nafi’s Father by Mamadou Dia from Senegal, Gold Coast Lounge by Pascal Aka from Ghana; Kabel Lel Kasr (Fragile) by Ahmed Rashwan from Egypt.
In the long documentary competition, the festival will screen: Beyond My Steps by Kamy Lara and Paula Agostinho from Angola; The man who became a museum by Marawan Trablsi from Tunisia; On a la temps pour nous by Katy Lena Ndiaye from Senegal; Fathallah TV — Ten Years Later by Wided Zoghalmi from Tunisia, Mother by Lemohang Jeremiah from Losotho; Cilima by Aissa Djouamaa from Algeria; Patir by Mary-Noël Niba from Cameroon and France; A City and The Lost Art of Happiness by Nadia Ibrahim from Egypt.
In the short film competition LAFF will screen: Rasta by Samir Benchikh from Algeria; Little Black Dress by Esteri Tebandeke from Uganda; Synapse by Nour Eldin Zerrouki from Algeria; The Swan Song by Yazid El Kadir from Morocco; Dehai (Tidings) by Nahom Abraham from Eritrea; La Chambre by Latifa Said from Algeria; Ablinga by Fabien Dao from Burkina Faso; Ayelebvia by Kpatchaa Justin from Togo; Waffo L’Enfant Serpent by Soro Azata from Burkina Faso; Our Albertinia by Chantel Clark from South Africa; Ghost Of Spacetime by Karim Tajouaout from Morocco; Enti Chkoun by Raouia Marmouch from Tunisia; Le chant d’Ahmed by Foued Mansour from Tunisia; Nirvana by Richard Governor Owusu from Ghana; Habib, Shady Fouad from Egypt; Tabaski by Laurence Attali from Senegal; About separation by Kawthar Younis from Egypt.
Since its inaugural round, the festival has held an international competition on the theme of human rights. This year LAFF has changed the title of the Freedom Competition to the Diaspora Competition. This section now deals with the films that are produced all of the world which deal with African matters. The films that will compete in this section are: My Friend Fela by Joel Zito Araújo from Brazil and Nigeria; Our lady of the nile by Atiq Rahimi from Rwanda; Rattlesnakes by Julius Amedume from USA; Papicha by Mounia Meddou from Algeria, France and Belgium; Paris-Stalingrad by Hend Meddeb from Tunisia; The way to paradise by Wahid Sanouji from Netherlands; The Train of Salt and Sugar by Licinio Azevedo from Portugal and Mozambique.
The long narrative jury are: Burkinabe filmmaker Gaston Kaboré, Nigerian Actress Maïmouna N’Diaye, Moroccon filmmaker Saâd Chraïbi, Nigerian film critic Steve Ayorinde and Egyptian actor Mostafa Shaban. The long documentary jury are: Sudanese filmmaker Amjad Abu Alala, Tunisian filmmaker Mokhtar Ladjimi Kenyan, filmmaker Peter Wangugi Gitau, Senegalese film critic Thierno Ibrahima Dia, and Egyptian film critic Essam Zakaria. The short film jury are: filmmaker Asmae El Moudir from Morocco, filmmaker David ‘Tosh’ Gitonga from Kenya, actor Salem Dendou from Mauritania, and from Egypt filmmaker Ahmed Fawzi Saleh, filmmaker and Producer, Mark Lotfy. The Diaspora jury are: author Anjali Prabhu from India, film critic Peter Rorvik from South Africa, filmmaker Sawsan Darwaza from Jordan, filmmaker Mwezé Ngangura from Congo. FIPRESCI Jury are: Lotfi Ben Khelifa from Tunisia, Eva af Geijerstam from Sweden and Mohamed Tarek from Egypt.
LAFF is celebrating the 100th birth anniversary of the legendary actor Farid Shawki (1920-1998), who was known for his action roles during 1950s and 1960s. However, his multifaceted gift also allowed for comedy and tragedy besides screenwriting and film production. This round of the festival will be dedicated to the names of Egyptian filmmakers Samir Seif (1947-2019) and Osama Fawzi (1961-2019), Guinean actor Sotigui Kouyaté (1936-2010), Egyptian actress Aqila Ratib (1916-1999), and Tunisian producer Ahmed Bahaeddine Attia (1945-2007). The festival also pays tribute to some acting stars: Jimmy Jean-Louis from Haiti, Maïmouna N’Diaye from Nigeria and Senegal, and from Egypt Amr Abdel-Gelil, Mustafa Shaaban and Ziena
The festival plays a significant role in the local community through different kind of art education, and this year it is holding eight workshops for the local youth on such topics as filmmaking, screenwriting, cinematography, acting, animation, ballet, and drawing. However, each year LAFF also schedules screenings of the latest commercial films in the past year, as there are no commercial film theatres in Luxor or other cities in Upper Egypt.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 27 February, 2020 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.