The second annual Luxor African Film Festival opened on Monday night with an arts forum held at Al-Awameya Cultural Palace, featuring works by young Upper Egyptian artists.
"Dedicated only to Upper Egyptian artists, the Arts Creative Forum features work by 39 young artists, including photography, paintings, sculptors, animation, cartoons, and installations, in addition to a number of workshops," said Emad Abu Green, the organiser of the event.
“It is a chance for young artists from Upper Egypt to exhibit their work and showcase their culture at an international event.”
“Artists of Upper Egypt always leave their hometowns in search of a better future, but with this initiative, we provide the environment they are seeking in Cairo or Alexandria here in Upper Egypt, to expose their work and get noticed,” he added.
The Arts Creative Forum, which will run until 24 March, features the work of young artists who are either graduates or undergraduates from the Faculty of Arts in Luxor and the Bedayat Group of independent artists. There will also be a solo exhibition by Abu Green himself.
“My exhibition is entitled ‘Shafaf we Molawan’ (Transparent and Colourful) and relates to my hometown,” he said. Born and raised in the province of Assiut in Upper Egypt, Abu Green’s work is something of a sequel to the work he presented at last year’s festival.
“I was invited to hold an exhibition at the Luxor African International Festival last year,” he recalls. Following its success, Abu Green approached organisers of the film festival to pursue greater representation of talent from Upper Egypt.
A month ago, Abu Green was officially commissioned by the director of the film festival Azza Husseiny to organise an arts forum on the margin of the film festival, which he immediately accepted.
The forum will also see the organisation of a workshop for the artists, at which they will start working on a joint project that will be displayed at next year’s festival.
“The idea is to challenge our mindsets and traditions and bring something unique and original but at the same time which will represent our Egyptian identity,” Abu Green said.
Another workshop will challenge the artistic creativity of them all through a 15-metre-long canvas, “which everyone must use to create something harmonious.”
Aiming at the decentralisation of arts and culture in Egypt, Abu Green and his young team have decided to host their forum at one of Egypt’s forgotten palaces, Al-Awameya Cultural Palace. “We managed to reserve the palace for such an important event as a first step towards highlighting our culture, and to aim at having it open for the entire year and not only when hosting large and international events as such,” he said.
The Arts Creative Forum is part of the Luxor African Film Festival which was started in 2012 by the Independent Shabab Foundation, headed by scriptwriter Sayed Fouad.
The festival was formed in response to the lack of penetration of African films within Egypt and vice versa. It also seeks to decentralise the cultural scene in Egypt and take them outside Cairo and Alexandria.
Al-Awameya Cultural Palace, from 18 to 24 March, daily 10am-7pm
Corniche El-Nil, near Sheraton Hotel, Al-Awameya, Luxor