(Photo: still from In the Last Days of the City)
Hours following the statement released earlier today by the filmmakers behind “In the Last Days of The City” about the film’s exclusion from the 38th Cairo International Film Festival, the festival administration issued a press release saying the film was excluded after the filmmakers violated agreed-upon conditions for the film’s participation.
The CIFF said that the film’s director “Tamer El-Said agreed to participate in only a limited number of festivals (three or four as he mentioned.) However, after this agreement, it came to the festival’s attention that the film would be participating in nearly 10 festivals, all of them preceding the Cairo International Film Festival.”
“Therefore, the Cairo International Film Festival administration had no choice but to send back the film to the director with an apology, and to exclude the film from participating in the international competition in its 38th edition.”
The CIFF administration added that “since the film has participated in a large number of festivals since its premiere, it would have made more sense for the film to be added to the Prospects of Arab Cinema program, which is a parallel program that includes some of the best modern Arab productions.”
“The proposition was made by Youssef Cherif Rizkallah [the artistic director of the festival, who first saw the film during its presentation earlier this year at the Forum section of the Berlin International Film Festival] but was rejected by director Tamer El-Said, who insisted that the film should be part of the international competition of the festival.”
“Youssef Cherif Rizkallah agreed to this condition because of the high quality of the film and because he felt that the festival should support this type of contemporary work and novelty in Egyptian cinema, but requested that Tamer El-Said stop sending the film to other festivals until it is screened at CIFF, in regard to the size and value of the Cairo International Film Festival.”
The CIFF concluded by saying that “this statement was only made to clarify the process that led to the exclusion of the movie from the selection, and is in no regards related to the quality of the movie.”
The filmmakers had said that they received a letter from the festival’s administration “stating that the film will not be part of the festival, and the reason for the decision is the film’s participation in a large number of international film festivals preceding CIFF.”
The filmmakers added that their agreement with the festival “clearly stipulated that the film’s CIFF screening would be its Middle East and North Africa premiere. In no way at all was it required that we refrain from taking part in festivals outside of the region. The administration was aware that the film had been and would be screened in other international festivals before CIFF.”
Co-produced by Zero Production, In the Last Days of the City was co-written by El-Said and Rasha Salti. The film's art director is late artist Salah Marei.
The film stars Khalid Abdalla, Laila Samy and Hanan Youssef. The shooting of the film began in 2008, taking the filmmakers to Cairo, Alexandria, Beirut, Baghdad and Berlin and bringing together many talents from the Arab world.
According to a note about the film released by the Berlinale organisers, Tamer El-Said's feature sees his alter-ego, actor Khalid Abdalla, star as a Cairo-based film-maker struggling to make a film about the city, which is in a state of uproar.
Ever since its world premiere at the Berlinale, the film has screened in a number of festivals, including the Melbourne International Film Festival, the Pesaro Film Festival, the Olhar de Cinema - Curitiba International Film Festival, Malta’s Valletta Film Festival, and the Polish MFF T-Mobile Nowe Horyzonty Film Festival where it won the Grand Prix.
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