The line-up of the upcoming Cairo International Film Festival (CIFF) includes four international premieres, six world premiers and 55 Arab and African premieres, the festival's organisers announced at a press conference on Wednesday.
The official selection includes 28 films from Europe, ten from Asia, seven from the Arab World, six from Latin America, five from North America and one from Australia. The most notable films are by French-Swiss director Jean-Luc Godard, Canadian director David Cronenberg, late French filmmaker Alain Resnais, German filmmaker Volker Schlöndorff and Michael Winterbottom from England.
As previously announced, the festival will open with The Cut by German-born Turkish director Fatih Akin's. The film is set during the First World War and chronicles the events of the Armenian genocide during the Ottoman Empire's collapse.
This year's CIFF is also set to screen pictures nominated as official Oscar entries for the 2015 race for Best Foreign Language Film by their respective countries. This list includes: Charlie's Country by Dutch-Australian director Rolf De Heer, The Light That Shines Only There by Mipo Oh, Abderrahmane Sissako's Timbuktu from Mauritania and Pantelis Voulgaris’ Little England from Greece.
In addition, Palestine's official nomination, Eyes of a Thief by Najwa Najjar, will make its Middle East premiere. Inspired by true events, and starring Egyptian silverscreen star Khaled Aboul-Naga, the film is centred on Tarek (Aboul-Naga), a Palestinian father who is released from an Israeli prison and returns to his hometown to find his daughter. By plunging the viewer into Tarek’s past, a sequence of events unravels the stifling nature of contemporary Palestinian society.
Also from the Arab World is Karim Hanafy's debut feature Gate of Departure, representing Egypt in the official selection category; Decor, the latest film by critically-acclaimed Egyptian filmmaker Ahmad Abdalla; and Red Blue Yellow by Emirati director Noujom Al-Ghanem.
Meanwhile, the Syrian documentary Silvered Water, Syrian Self Portrait will also be screened. Co-directed by Syrian filmmaker Ossama Mohammed and Wiam Simav Bedirxan, a young Kurdish woman who was in Homs during the uprising, the documentary is crafted from a series of shots with small cameras and cellphones that depict that daily strife of the war in Syria, footage Mohammed began to collect while he was living in exile in Paris.
Alongside the official selection, three categories will run during the ten-day festival, namely: Prospects of Arab Movies, Critics Week and Cinema of Tomorrow.
According to Sayed Fouad, head of Prospects of Arab Movies category, eight films were selected to be screened under this category. These include: Theeb from Jordan, Sotto Voce by Moroccan filmmaker Kamal Kamal, Le Challat De Tunis from Tunisia, El-Kot by Egypt's Ibrahim El-Batout, Rashid Masharawi's Falastine Stereo, Schehrezade's Diary from Lebanon, Timbuktu from Mauritania and an entry from Kuwait.
As for the Critics' Week category, the selected films include: Dancing with Maria from Italy, Nobody's Child from Serbia and The Iranian Film from Morocco.
Meanwhile, the Cinema of Tomorrow category, which will show shorts and student films, is curated by the Higher Institute of Cinema in Cairo. The category includes 15 short films and 17 student films from 25 countries. Entries in each of the sub-categories are competing for the top prize which is LE30,000.
Meanwhile, Egyptian star Yosra will head the jury of the International Competition, making her the first Egyptian to ever head the jury in the history of the festival competition. The remaining jury members are: China's Wang Xiaoshua, Ethiopian director Haile Gerima, Corinne van Egeraat, French film director Dominique Cabrera, Lebanese critic Ibrahim Al-Arees, Greek critic Alexis Grivas, Egyptian scriptwriter Mariam Naoum and cinematographer Nancy Abdel-Fattah.
Sixteen films will contend in the international competition, varying between narrative fiction, documentary and animation films.
Audiences and critics alike are anticipating this year's edition of CIFF. Since the 2011 revolution, the festival has been cancelled twice, once in 2011 and again in 2013, disrupting the flow of this annual event.
Both times, the Ministry of Culture cited security concerns. This time, however, organisers of the country’s oldest film festival promise overhauling changes.
While the festival did take place as scheduled in 2012, the closing ceremony was cancelled due to clashes in Tahrir Square, after protesters gathered to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the Mohamed Mahmoud clashes.
At the end of 2013, acclaimed film critic Farid formed a committee of young filmmakers to sketch out the blueprint for CIFF, promising a fresh come back.
The festival will run between 9 and 18 November with screenings being held at the Cairo Opera House.