Excitement and hope at the opening of the 8th Panorama of the European Film

Nahed Nasr, Thursday 26 Nov 2015

The 8th Panorama of the European Film kicked off Wednesday with an event held at Cinema Karim and a screening of the French-Italian movie Mia Madre

Audience at cinema Karim waits for the opening ceremony of the 8th Panorama of the European Film (Photo: Nahed Nasr)

It was the first time for the 8th Panorama of the European Film in Cairo to reach out to cinema Karim, a venue located in Downtown Cairo and one of the major cinemas screening films during this edition.

During the opening speech, Sébastian Trenner, the first secretary of the European Union in Cairo, was happy the EU has an opportunity to support the eight editions.

“At a moment when not a single day passes without a tragic event, we need to listen to each other, understand each other in openness, respect and serenity. Cultural dialogue is a must, and the cinema is a strong medium for positive dialogue,” Trenner said.

“We are supporting the Panorama since its second edition, and we believe in it,” he continued.

Trenner also underscored the many developments that over recent years characterised the Panorama, such as reaching out to other cities with screenings in Alexandria, Tanta and Minya.

“The EU supported this step, and we are excited to see the evolution,” he added.

For Trenner, the importance of such efforts is that they trigger dialogue.

“People have an oportunity to discuss what they like and what they dislike, their personal visions about life or a specific event portrayed in those films, and this is a dialogue about how people see things differently,” he said, adding that he hopes to yet see the Panorama screened in movie theatres all over Egypt.

“I know that the power of American distributors is not comparable, and I love both European and American films. But I think Egyptian films in the 50s and 60s were very much like European cinema, in terms that it was about feelings and social interactions, which is different from the superheroes of American cinema,” he said.

Marianne Khoury, who launched the Panorama of the European Film in 2004, looked also excited about recent edition expanding beyond Cairo.

“This year we screen 65 films from 26 countries in nine movie theatres in four cities. This is a big step,” Khoury said during the opening.

“Zawya already started screening its films in other cities and those audiences asked to have Panorama in their theatres as well,” she added, underscoring that outreach towards Alexandria, Tanta and Minya was in response to audience requests.

The Panorama's opening was also attended by Egyptian filmmaker Ahmad Maher, who was the jury head in the “Cinema of Tomorrow” section in the 37th edition of the Cairo International Film Festival, which closed recently.

Maher applauded the idea of screening what he calls “an alternative cinema,” adding that in this context Panorama is the most important cinematic event in Egypt.

“It (Panorama) helps us to know how many people are interested in this kind of cinema, and I think the number is increasing since it attracts more audiences each year. Many people are interested in alternative cinema, and I am sure the theatres will be full of them.”

Maher pointed to three films in this year’s Panorama which are on top of his list: The Lobster, The Mother and 45 Years.

The Mother (Mia Madre) was the opening film screened during the evening.

Mia Madre
Still from My Mother (Photo: courtesy of Zawya)

The French-Italian production is directed by Nanni Moretti and has won several awards, including the Ecumenical Jury Prize at Cannes. The film stars Margherita Buy, John Turturro, Giulia Lazzarini and Nanni Moretti.

Sandro Cappelli, Italy’s cultural attaché to Egypt who introduced the opening film to the audience, said that “Mia Madre represents a model of Moretti’s cinematography with the dramatic line that fuses a personal life with social events. In fact, Moretti is also the scriptwriter and acts in the movie.”

Cappelli pointed to a few other characteristics of Moretti’s films, such as the fact that he often presents a character of a mother in them. In Mia Madre, the role of the mother is played by a prominent Italian actress, Giulia Lazzarini.

Cappelli encouraged the audience to also look for other films by Moretti, “to get better acquainted with the director’s style.”

The audience

The opening was attended by a large audience enthusiastic about this year’s Panorama and the opening film.

Dina Tewfik Wassef, who follows the Panorama for the fourth time, looked eager to see what was new this year.

She told Ahram Online that the Panorama “is a unique annual opportunity to watch new films, see new ideas, and new realities. I really wish to see those films screened all over Cairo's theatres.”

She went on to share her view on the opening film, saying: “Each year the organisers pick the best movie for the opening, and this year is not an exception.”

Golnar Kodsy and Mohamed Madkour are following the Panorama for the second consecutive year.

“We enjoyed the last edition so here we are this year! The Panorama gives us the chance to see films that we usually watch when travelling outside Egypt. We should definitely have them screened in our cinemas on a regular basis,” Kodsy commented to Ahram Online.

While her husband Madkour welcomed the opening film, he noticed that “some of the European films are difficult for regular cinema goers in Egypt, and this will not be changed unless they screen them frequently.”

Another follower, Samar El-Kady, a young Palestinian filmmaker, also encouraged cinema fans to not to miss this edition of the Panorama. “Come and watch the films. A lot of them are here and it is a great opportunity to have a break.”

Makkar, another regular follower of the Panorama, plans to watch as many films as he can since, “They give us an opportunity to get in touch with the world.”

*Ahram Online is the main media sponsor of The Panorama of the European Film and of Zawya.

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