The festival's special edition – as presented by the organizers – will have no opening or closing ceremony, both events being the most marketed and highlighted in media components of the festival.
The GFF revealed that it will cancel all other special celebrations, "reaffirming El-Gouna Film Festival's solidarity with the Palestinian people."
The festival’s 2023 edition was originally scheduled to take place on 13-20 October but was postponed only three days before it was set to open till the end of October, with the organizers citing the outbreak of the Israeli war on Gaza.
A few days later, the festival was postponed indefinitely, with the organizers announcing that they would donate EGP 5 million ($161,000) "to fortify the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Gaza, in partnership with the Sawiris Foundation for Social Development and the Egyptian Red Crescent Society."
While many cinephiles speculated that the sixth GFF would not see light this year, the organizers revealed the new dates (14-21 December) two weeks ago.
The special edition will include a special programme dedicated to Palestinian cinema, organized in collaboration with the Palestine Film Institute.
This segment aims to "shed light on the current situation and inhumane conditions in Gaza," the festival revealed.
The festival will hold a fundraising dinner, where donations for humanitarian aid efforts in Gaza will be collected and presented to the Egyptian Red Crescent.
The GFF will also dedicate a special section to memorable works of the Sudanese cinema, restored by the Sudanese Film Group (SFG) in cooperation with the Arsenal Institute for Film and Video Art.
SFG was founded in 1989 by three Sudanese filmmakers – Eltayeb Mahdi, Ibrahim Shaddad, and Suliman Elnour – and will "bring to light the ingenious narratives and metaphorical richness that was nearly lost to history," read a press release.
It's worth noting that the sixth edition comes after a two-year hiatus following the fifth edition held in 2021. Filmmaker Amir Ramses had served as the festival's artistic director since its launch in 2017 through 2021.
For the GFF’s sixth edition, organizers revealed Marianne Khoury as its new artistic director.
The 2023 programming consists of 80 films to be screened across many sections, including 12 feature-length fiction films, 12 feature-length documentaries, and 21 short films in official competition.
The Egyptian filmmaker Amr Salama's 60 Egyptian Pounds will open the GFF’s sixth edition, being the first short to open the festival. The film will also participate in the festival's Short Film Competition.
In September, the GFF unveiled its latest initiative “the CineGouna Market,” which sheds light on the industry.
CineGouna Market is a hub that houses already established segments of the festival: CineGouna Springboard and the CineGouna Bridge activities.
The market will receive a new space under the arches of the Plaza and will include a large auditorium, where master classes will be held, and two smaller venues to conduct daily discussions.
In 2023, the festival will expand to Cairo, screening chosen films at Zawya, the art house cinema in Downtown.