Stills from Decor (left) and Excuse My French (right)
In its official announcement released on Wednesday 3 September, the BFI London Film Festival, which is scheduled to take place between 8 and 19 October, revealed that this year's line-up will include 245 fiction and documentary features to be screened across London cinemas.
Two movies by Egyptian directors, Ahmad Abdalla and Amr Salama, will be screened at the festival: Decor will be screened within the festival's 'Love' section, while Excuse My French is in the 'Laugh' section. Both films will be screened several times on 18 October.
Based on a script by Mohamed Diab, psychological drama Decor is Abdalla's latest movie.
According to information released by Euromed Audiovisual, when speaking in Dublin at the first Dublin Arabic Film Festival, Abdalla commented that Décor was about a woman struggling to know what she wants, and struggling to make her own choices in life. "I would consider it more classic than any film I’ve done before, a homage to old Egyptian cinema, to Faten Hamama and Omar Sharif. The main character is obsessed with old Egyptian films, which she keeps playing on VHS,” Abdalla said.
Independent filmmaker Abdalla has gained significant recognition due to his previous three works: Heliopolis, Microphone and Rags and Tatters. With Decor, this is the first time for Abdalla to work with a big budget.
The film has not been screened in Egypt and its release date will be on 18 September 2014, according to IMDb website.
Still from Decor
Excuse My French (La Moakhza), Salama's latest movie, tackles issues of sectarianism in Egypt and was produced after numerous struggles with censorship.
It tells the story of a Coptic Christian child who, fearing discrimination from his classmates after transferring to a public school, pretends to be a Muslim. The film was initially deemed too sensitive by the board and Salama was forced to adjust the script, all the while trying to preserve the film's core concept of religious discrimination. Even after the changes, though, the censors refused the film again in 2010, claiming that it would fuel sectarian strife and that it did not reflect behaviours that exist in Egyptian society.
Salama tried once more in 2012, hoping that the changes ushered in by the 25 January 2011 revolution would allow more cinematic flexibility, but the board rejected it a third time and requested further edits. The director told Al-Ahram's Arabic news website in 2012 that he believed the film was rejected, more than anything, due to the religion of its main character.
Excuse My French was chosen as the opening film of the second edition of the Luxor Egyptian and European Film Festival currently taking place in the Upper Egyptian city.
According to the official press release, the 245 fiction and documentary features that will be screened at the festival include "16 World Premieres, 9 International Premieres, 38 European Premieres and 19 Archive films, including 2 Restoration World Premieres." There will also be screenings of 148 live action and animated shorts. A stellar line-up of directors, cast and crew are expected to take part in career interviews, master classes, Q&As and other special events.
BFI London Film Festival is Britain's leading film event and one of the world's best film festivals. It introduces the finest new British and international films to an expanding London and UK-wide audience and attracts significant international film industry participation. LFF is a compelling combination of red carpet glamour, friendly audiences and vibrant exchange.