Czech Republic film festival to pay tribute to iconic Egyptian director Youssef Chahine

Ahram Online , Thursday 25 Apr 2019

The 54th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival will honour Egyptian filmmaker Youssef Chahine (1926-2008) with a large retrospective of 11 remastered films

Youssef Chahine
Youssef Chahine (Photo: Reuters)

The 54th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival (KVIFF) – to be held between 28 June and 6 July in Karlovy Vary, a spa town in the west Bohemia region of the Czech Republic – will honor late iconic Egyptian filmmaker Youssef Chahine (1926-2008).

The special tribute will include a large retrospective of 11 re-mastered films consisting of lesser-known early works as well as established classics, such as Cairo Station (1958), Saladin (1963), The Return of the Prodigal Son (1976), and Alexandria...Why? (1978), among others.

The lesser known films include Daddy Amin (1950), a fantasy comedy; The Devil of the Desert (1954), a sword-and-sandal adventure, and My One and Only Love (1957), one of Egypt’s most beloved musical comedies.

"All the movies in the programme – the biggest of its kind to be featured at any international film fest – are part of a major Chahine restoration project realised over the past several years by the director’s production house, Misr International Films, along with various other institutions such as La Cinémathèque française and Cineteca di Bologna. Five of the restored films are making their festival premiere at Karlovy Vary IFF this year, and three of them are being shown for the first time with English subtitles," read the KVIFF's official press release. 

The ambitious programme, curated by an Egyptian film critic Joseph Fahim and one of the Arab delegates of Karlovy Vary Film Festival, aims to provide a comprehensive overview of one of the greatest filmmakers from Africa and the Middle East.

The short biography of Chahine posted by the festival's organizers at the website states the following: "Youssef Chahine was the Middle East’s most recognised and most celebrated film director. His pictures were shown at the world’s biggest film festivals, including Cannes, Venice and Berlin. He won the 1979 Silver Bear for Alexandria Why? (1978) at the Berlinale. Five of his films were nominated for Cannes’ Palme d’Or, and in 1997 he was presented with the festival’s 50th Anniversary Prize for lifetime achievement. Legendary Egyptian star Omar Sharif got his screen debut in Chahine’s The Blazing Sun (1954). Following Egypt’s 1967 military defeat to Israel, Chahine became a staunch critic of the Egyptian government, which resulted in a number of his films being temporarily banned."

The Karlovy Vary International Film Festival is the largest film festival in the Czech Republic. Every year, the festival presents some 200 films from around the world, and regularly hosts famous and important filmmakers. 

The festival was launched in 1946 in Mariánské Lázně before moving to Karlovy Vary in 1947 and becoming a competitive festival with the main award being the Crystal Globe. In 1956, the International Federation of Film Producers Associations (FIAPF) officially designated Karlovy Vary a ‘category A’ festival.

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