For the past six years, every autumn cinephiles and industry professionals wait fervently for the Panorama of the European Film, the brainchild of Misr International Films (MIF). In its commitment to facilitate access to European films in Egypt, the Panorama has stood out for its compelling content and solid organisation, the latter often missing from similar Cairo-based festivals.
This year, the Panorama will screen 38 films from 25 countries over ten days. Two venues, Zawya in downtown and Galaxy Theatre in Manial, will be screening the movies throughout the whole day.
In addition, morning screenings will be held at Plaza Cinema in 6th of October City and City Stars in Nasr City, in an effort to reach out to the many schools on the outskirts of Cairo.
“It [the Panorama] has become a fixture in Egyptian cultural life,” Reinhold Brender, deputy head of the Delegation of the European Union, told media professionals at a press conference on 5 November.
Reinhold sat alongside Marianne Khoury, founder of the Panorama, Youssef Shazli, founder and director of Zawya Cinema, and Malak Makar, festival coordinator, later revealing the line-up of films, detailed the programme sections and answered queries from the audience.
The seventh run
The film programme is divided into several sub-sections: European Cinema, including feature films and award-winning productions which screened at European festivals in 2013 and 2014; Emerging Directors, showcasing films by young up and coming European directors; Documentary Rendezvous, including documentaries which made festival runs this year; Swiss Documentary Cinema, giving special focus to a certain country or European region; Panorama Classics, screening restored copies of classic European films; and a special retrospective for acclaimed German director Wim Wenders.
The Panorama also features a new sub-section dubbed Carte Blanche, a selection of three films chosen by Egyptian filmmakers: Yousry Nasrallah, Nadine Khan and Ahmad Abdalla.
The opening film, Khoury announced, will be disclosed in the coming days.
In selecting films, organisers explained several considerations. The Panorama Classics, for example, is inspired by a global movement to restore old films, a practice that is meant to lend films a longer life and enhance the picture quality, colour and sound.
Through including two sections that focus solely on documentary, the Panorama aims to put the spotlight on the nonfiction picture, a less popular form often discounted by the fables of fiction. In addition, documentary films are regarded as the forte of Swiss cinema. In the case of the Panorama, many filmmakers were eager to attend the screening and discuss their work, posing an opportunity for the organisers to strengthen the programme through creating dialogue between the artists and the audience.
During its sixth edition last year, the Panorama screened in Galaxy Cinema, Stars Cinema and Plaza Cinema in 6th of October (Sheikh Zayed). This year however the organisers preferred to stick to two locations as the main theatres for screenings, citing their inability to lure enough viewers in neighborhoods such as Sheikh Zayed.
Meanwhile, the success of Zawya, MIF’s art house cinema, has enabled programmers to strictly select European films for the current edition of the Panorama, as opposed to showing a mixture of European and Arab films as was the case in previous years.
“We didn’t have Zawya last year.., now we are able to screen Egyptian films and other Arab films all year round,” explained Khoury.
When asked about the proximity of the Panorama to the Cairo International Film Festival, which in its 36th edition runs between 9 and 18 November, wrapping up one day before the start of the Panorama, Shazli said that they were bound by a number of other considerations.
He explained that having the Panorama in September is too early as people are just easing into work after the summer holidays. October is full of international festivals, making it difficult for organizers to secure screening licenses, and December is too late in the year to hold a festival.
Ultimately, November seemed like the better choice. “It’s a good month for films,” he concluded.
Note to press
Members of the press can continue to register for accreditation for the Panorama until 22 November. Early shows - starting at 10am, 1pm and 3pm - will allocate the first 50 seats free of charge for press, students and industry professionals. Meanwhile, 6pm and 9pm shows are available only in exchange for tickets.
Films in each section of the 7th Panorama of the European Film
Dutch Shorts Selection
Wim Wenders Retrospective
Emerging Directors Selection
European Cinema Selection
Carte Blanche: Egyptian Directors' Selection
Swiss Focus: Telling Migration Selection
Documentary Rendez-Vous Selection
Panorama main venues:
Abdel-Aziz Aboul-Seoud St.
Morning screenings only:
Sheikh Zayed, 6th of October
Omar Ibn El-Khattab St.
Ahram Online is the official media sponsor of the seventh Panorama of the European Film