Actor Ahmed Helmy accepting the Faten Hamama Excellency prize at 38th CIFF (Photo: Al-Ahram)
The 38th Cairo International Film Festival (CIFF) opened last night with a ceremony at the Cairo Opera House’s Grand Hall to a stage filled to the brim with cinema stars.
One of the first events in the evening’s programme was a screening of clips from the films of late Egyptian film star Mahmoud Abdel-Aziz – who died Saturday evening – with music from the television series Raafat El-Hagaan, in which he starred.
Upon his death, the festival announced it will dedicate this year’s edition to Abdel-Aziz. Prior to announcing the festival’s commencement, culture minister Helmy El-Namnam asked audiences to stand for one minute in mourning for the late actor.
Singer Nesma Mahgoub then presented Sot El-Cinema, a musical performance directed by Khaled Galal with music by Ahmed Tarek Yehia.
The ceremony's presenter Jasmine Zaki presented the festival’s guests, starting with renowned actor Mahmoud Hemeida, honorary president of the festival, as well as festival President Magda Wassef and minister El-Namnam.
Zaki then announced the winners of this year’s Faten Hamama Excellency Award, which included German director Christian Petzold, Chinese director Jia Zhangke, and Egyptian actor Ahmed Helmy.
Helmy gave an acceptance speech where he jokingly emphasised the importance of honouring actors during their lifetime and not only after their death.
On a more serious note, he highlighted that the Faten Hamama Award was an honour on four levels: for being in Egypt, for being part of a Cairo festival, for bearing Faten Hamama’s name, and for being an award in the name of a woman.
Helmy dedicated his award to Abdel-Aziz.
Cast and crew of A Day for Women at CIFF opening (Photo: Al-Ahram)
Recipients of the Faten Hamama Appreciation Award also included Malian director Cheick Oumar Sissoko, Palestinian producer Hussein El-Qala, and late Egyptian director Mohamed Khan, whose daughter Nadine Khan received the prize on his behalf.
Egyptian Actor Yehia El-Fakharany will be awarded in the closing ceremony, as he was travelling and therefore not able to attend the opening.
The awards were followed by presenting the directors of the different sections of the festival; Mohsen El-Touni, director of the International Cinema of Tomorrow Competition, Ahmed Hassouna, director of Critics Week, and Sayed Fouad, director of Arab Cinema Horizons.
The film A Day for Women by director Kamla Abo Zekri was screened at the end of the ceremony after presenting the film's cast – which includes Elham Shahin and Mahmoud Hemeida – and some crewmembers on stage.
Among the attendees were actor Farouk El-Fishawy, Ahmed Shaker Abdellatif, director Khaled Youssef, Shireen, scriptwriter Mahfouz Abdelrahman, actress Samira Abdel-Aziz, Actor Khaled El-Nabawy, producer Nahed Farid Shawqy, actress Arwa Gouda, actress Elham Shaheen, actor Ezzat El-Alaily, producer Mohamed El-Adl, among others from Egypt’s film and music scene.
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