Ibrahim Farghali, Ibrahim Dawood win Sawiris Cultural Awards

Mohammed Saad , Sunday 3 Feb 2013

Political unrest overshadows annual literary award ceremony at Cairo Opera House

Sawiris Culture award ceremony 2013
Sawiris Culture award ceremony 2013

The eighth Sawiris Cultural Awards ceremony was held in a simpler and less festive atmosphere this year due to the political turmoil engulfing the country.

This year’s surprise was the judging panel of established writers, which was stronger and included more respected literary names than at the prestigious Arabic Booker.

The prizes were announced on Saturday night at a ceremony in the Small Hall of the Cairo Opera House. A number of intellectuals and public figures attended the ceremony, but the absence of many actors and public figures who usually attend the ceremony was notable.

Sameeh Sawiris, the award’s sponsor, attended the ceremony but his brother Naguib, the main partner in the family's economic empire, did not attend as he lives now in Paris after facing problems with Egypt’s new rulers.

The ceremony presenter apologised for using the word “ceremony” while the country is facing an unknown political future due to the new surge of violence, some of which was taking place just few hundred of metres away.

The established author’s prizes went to Ibrahim Farghali for his novel Abnaa Al-Gablawy (Sons of Gebelawy) and to Ibrahim Dawood for his short story collection Al-Gaw Al-Amm (The General Atmosphere). Both writers are journalists at Al-Ahram.

The judging panel for the Established Writers Awards included: Gamal El-Ghitani; critics Mona Tolba and Mohammed Badawy, and professors of Arabic Literature at the American University in Cairo, Samia Mehrez and Mohammed Bererry.

Gamal El-Ghitani said the panel considered aesthetic values, authenticity and the spirit of creative adventure when judging the works.

Salama Ahmed Salama, who passed away last year and was a co-founder of the prize, was awarded the Sawiris Cultural Personality Prize for his cultural efforts. His wife accepted the prize on his behalf.

The Opposite Direction by Yasser Ahmed Mohammed, Visual Cadres by Mahmoud El-Ghitany, and Tango Dancer by Mohammed Salem, won the prizes for emerging novel writers.

Mohammed Rafee’, won the short story prize for emerging writers, for his collection The Water’s Pomp. Amira Hassn Dessoki won a prize for her collection Stop it Youssef, which she shared jointly with Mohammed Farouk Shamseddin for his novel Cinema Qasr El-Nil.

The judging panel for the Emerging Writers Awards included the writer Ibrahim Abdel-Maguied, journalist Karima Kamal, philosophy professor Anwar Moghith, poet Abdel-Monem Ramadan and critic Saeed El-Wakeel.

Ibrahim Abdel-Maguied, head of the panel, said they chose the winning works on the merits of innovation in their literary style.

Writer and director Khaled Ezzat won the prize for established writers' Best Cinema Scenario, Halty (My Case). Mohammed Amin Rady won the best scenario award for emerging writers for The Hell’s Capital.

Cinema critic Samir Farid, head of the best scenario for established writers award panel, said the criteria on which they chose the best scenario was the ability to innovate and rebel outside the boxes of consumptive commercial cinema.

The best play awards went to Ibrahim El-Houssaini for Hashashin and Selim Stawroo for The Defeats of the Knights.

The Sawiris Cultural Award is a prestigious Egyptian literary prize established in 2005 by the Sawiris Foundation, a human development organisation set up by the wealthy Sawiris family. The award ceremony, which has a top prize of LE100,000, was described by the late Egyptian author Ibrahim Aslan as one of the most important literary awards in Egypt.

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