Three Egyptian films win major awards at Algeria's Oran Film Festival

Ahram Online , Thursday 28 Jul 2016

This year's edition ran between 20 and 27 July and honoured late Egyptian director Youssef Chahine with a special section


Egyptian films Nawara, Dry Hot Summer and We Have Never Been Kids scooped up top awards at Algeria’s ninth Oran Arab Film Festival, which ran between 20 and 27 July.

Nawara took two main awards, the festival’s top award in the Feature Films category and the Best Actress Award, which went to Egyptian star Menna Shalabi. 

Dry Hot Summer (Gaf Har Sayfan) by Egyptian filmmaker Sherif El-Bendary received the main award in the Short Films category.

The documentary Abadan Lam Nakon Atfal (We Have Never Been Kids), directed by Egyptian filmmaker Mahmood Soliman, won the Special Jury Prize in the Documentary Films category.   

Egyptian social drama Nawara, was directed and scripted by Hala Khalil and produced by the Red Star film production company, is set during the 2011 Revolution.

The film tells the story of a maid, the title character, who works for a wealthy family in a gated community in Cairo, and in doing so, explores the failure of a certain kind of revolutionary romanticism.

The film earned two best actress awards for star Menna Shalaby at the 12th Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) and at Morocco’s Tetouan International Mediterranean Film Festival last April. The film also screened at the 23rd Munich Film Festival last June.

Dry Hot Summer was written by Nura El-Sheikh and co-produced by Claudia Jubeh (Germany) and Hossam El-Ouan (Egypt).

The 30-minute film captures the chance meeting of two lonely Egyptians on a bustling and hot summer day in Cairo. The day's journey disturbs the stifling routines of the two characters, taking them on an expedition of self-discovery.

The short fiction film had its world premiere at the DIFF's 12th edition in December 2015. It was also selected to open the 18th edition of the Ismailia International Film Festival for Documentaries and Shorts last April. 

The film won the Robert Bosch Stiftung Film Prize for International Cooperation at a gala held during Berlinale Talents, a six-day creative summit for up-and-coming filmmakers at the Berlin Film Festival last February. 

We Have Never Been Kids centres on the life of an Egyptian woman dealing with divorce and raising her four children amid continuously shifting circumstances.

The film was co-produced by Egypt along with UAE, Qatar and Lebanon, premiering at the 12th edition of DIFF last December, where it won the Best Muhr non-fiction feature award.

Other films that won awards in the Feature Films category include the Moroccan film Masafat Mayl B Hiza’I (A Mile in My Shoes) by director Said Khallaf, which received the Special Jury Prize, and the Iraqi film Samt Al-Ra’I (The Silence of the Shepherd) by director Raad Mushatat, which received special recognition from the jury.

The Best Director Award went to Algerian filmmaker Lotfy Boushoushi for his film Al-Bi’r (The Well), the Best Screenwriter Award went to Syrian filmmaker Joud Said for his film B Intizar Al-Kharif (Waiting for Autumn), and the Best Actor Award went to Alain Saadeh for his role in the Lebanese film Kteer Kbeer (Very Big Shot).

In the short films category, the Special Jury Prize went to Algerian film Kindil El-Bahr (Jellyfish) by director Damien Ounouri, and Tunisian short Ghassra by Jamil Najjar received special recognition from the jury.  

In the Documentary Films category, Algerian film Fi Ra’si Dawar by director Hassan Farhani scooped up the top prize.

This year, the festival screened a variety of films, features, shorts and documentaries from filmmakers representing 17 Arab countries. Thirty-four films were listed in this year’s main competition, comprising 12 feature films, 12 Algerian short films, and 10 documentary works. 

At the heart of this year’s edition was a celebration of late iconic Egyptian filmmaker Youssef Chahine, whom the festival honoured with a section titled ‘Youssef Chahine: A love story between Egypt and Algeria.’

The section highlighted 40 years since the release of Chahine’s film Awdet El-Ibn El-Dal (Return of the Prodigal Son, 1976). The festival’s website spotlighted the Egyptian-Algerian produced film, dubbing it as was one of the best films by the renowned Egyptian director, and among the all time top 100 films in the history of Egyptian cinema.

The festival also commemorated the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare's death, and screened three film adaptations of the bard's plays.

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