The 80-minute documentary Fiancées, by Swiss director Julia Bünter, has been unveiled as the opening film for the anticipated 22nd edition of the Ismailia International Film Festival for Documentaries and Shorts, taking place in the Suez Canal city between 16 and 22 June.
Drawing a portrait of Cairo’s modern society, the 2019-production Fiancées follows the marriage stories of three women – Batool, Marize and Randa – at a critical turning point in their lives, which are full of tradition and cultural challenges.
"Instead of presenting marriage as the union of two beings for eternity, Fiancées uses marriage as a pretext to talk about men and women, and the social pressures young couples face every day," stated Julia Bünter, 31, about her debut feature documentary.
"Between humor and the emotion induced by the importance of the stakes, I wanted a film that is dense, intense and light at the same time, just like Cairo and my characters. By releasing the intimate and sincere voice of those characters, the film allows us to enter the aspirations and fears of today’s Egyptian youth," added Bünter.
Produced by Intermezzo Films SA, Fiancées is edited by Myriam Rachmut.
Born in Geneva, Bünter studied cinema at the École cantonale d'art de Lausanne. Her diploma film, Jour J, was screened in many international festivals including the Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival. She then directed the short documentary À la Maison in 2015, the same year she moved to Cairo to work on Fiancées.
"I fell in love with this country and its capital city, its social structure, which has a fascinating complexity and contradictions that can be as charming as irritating" she expressed.
Organised by the culture ministry's National Cinema Centre, under the helm of writer Mohamed El-Basousy, the festival has selected 10 feature and 14 short documentaries for its main competitions, to be judged by internationaly acclaimed filmmakers and critics.
Headed by prominent critic Essam Zakaria for the fourth successive edition, the first Arab festival of its kind, which has been taking place annually since 1991, attracts prominent filmmakers and critics due to its rich programming, which is coordinated this year by newly appointed artistic director Safaa Morad.
Ismailia is located 100 km east of the capital Cairo, with various modes of transportation available to travel to the Suez Canal city, where accommodation costs are lower than in Cairo, with several hotels and resorts available for different budgets.
The festival will take place amid strict precautions meant to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
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