Chats with the Cairo audience: First days of 8th Panorama of the European Film

Nahed Nasr, Saturday 28 Nov 2015

Ahram Online listened to what the Cairo audience thinks about chosen films screened during the first three days of 8th Panorama of the European Film

Audience queues at Zawya (Photo: courtesy of Zawya)

The first three days of the Panorama of the European Films — an event that runs between 25 November and 5 December — brought a considerable commotion among cinephiles.

Already in the thick of the screenings, it is apparent that many films attracted large numbers of viewers, where theatres in Cairo were full, and queues seemingly endless.

Audiences welcomed the films with very positive reactions and have been open about expressing their views during the screenings and after.

Le Havre, a 2011 comedy-drama written and directed by Aki Kaurismaki, was one of the films screened on Friday, 27 November, the Panorama's third day.

The film starring Andre Wilms, Kati Outinen, Jean- Pierre Darroussin and Blondin Miguel and was screened in Zawya and chosen by Hala Galal, a filmmaker and the founder of the SEMAT production and distribution company. 

The Panorama audience who came to watch Le Havre were motivated by their trust in the filmmaker’s choices. 

Mohammed Sayed, a journalist and a film critic, said that Galal “is an experienced filmmaker and I trust her choice. I also googled the film and read about this important director.”

Lamis Al-Mohamad, a young Syrian filmmaker who lives in Egypt, said that “it is interesting to watch a film that is chosen by a filmmaker.”

She added that Panorama is like an open buffet that enables you to get a full selection of different and great films. “I prepared a list of 25 films from the Panorama schedule, including Le Havre and Mustang,” she added.

Le Havre
Still from Le Havre (Photo: Zawya)

Mustang, another attraction screened Friday, 27 November, is one of seven films screened within the Panorama's Emerging Directors section.

The movie is a 2015 internationally co-produced drama, the first feature by the Turkish female film director Deniz Gamze Erguven, starring Gunes Sensy, Doga Zynep Doguslu, and Tuba Sunguroglu.

Mustang was already screened in the Director's Fortnight section at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival where it won the Europa Cinemas Label Award. It also won the 2015 Lux Prize and was selected to be screened in the Special Presentations section of the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival, as well as being selected as the French entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 88th Academy Awards.

Mustang is about five vivacious girls in a remote Turkish village led by the youngest among them, the rebellious 13-year-old Lale. They grow up out of childhood in a family obsessed with traditions, and specifically the girls’ virtue. The movie is a poignant tale of tension between past and present in modern Turkey.

The audience seemed particularly taken by the film, applauding several scenes, and expressing their sympathy with the five girls who played the main roles in the film.

What hit a nerve with some viewers in particular was the situation of women in Turkey and in the Arab world. They went on to elaborate on this topic after the screening.

Some of the audience liked the way the filmmaker presented the tragic situation of the five girls in a lighthearted way, while others expressed to Ahram Online that “the story was too direct.”

“Such films were produced 10 years ago. I expected this one to be more sophisticated and less direct,” Ahmad Salem, an engineer told Ahram Online, adding that he preferred the film Victoria, screened on Thursday, 26 November.

Still from Mustang (Photo: Zawya)

“Technically speaking Victoria is a masterpiece, a one shot film without any cut. It is also very influential in terms of the script and the cinematography,” Salem elaborated.

He added that he follows the Panorama of the European Film for seven years now and that the film list never failed his expectations.

As audiences moved from one cinema to another, they could also attend 45 Years, a 2015 British drama film directed and written by Andrew Haigh and screened within the European Cinema Selection section.

45 Years is based on the short story by David Constantine and it took part in the main competition section of the 65th Berlin International Film Festival winning the Silver Bear for best actress and best actor. It was selected to be screened in the Special Presentations section of the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival.

Ross, a British citizen who lives in Cairo, told Ahram Online that she followed the Panorama’s 7th edition and is eagerly returning to see the chosen movies this year.

“The Cairo International Film Festival that just closed did not screen British films, hence 45 Years was an interesting chance to see something from my country,” Ross said.

Mona Hala, an Egyptian actress and TV presenter, was also in the audience.

“I attended Le Havre and Victoria today,” she revealed to Ahram Online pointing to the latter as being “particularly moving.”

She went on to elaborate how European cinema “is focusing more on our everyday life" with films "not made only for entertainment purposes."

Hala also underscored the important role of Zawya in its efforts to promote different kind of cinema productions. “Zawya is an example that should be followed on a larger scale,” she said.

Still from Victoria (Photo:Zawya)

Check Panorama's programme here and Ahram Online recommendations here.

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

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