Gouna Film Festival to 'put itself on the international map,' says founder Naguib Sawiris

Soha Elsirgany , Sunday 27 Aug 2017

El-Gouna Film Festival press conference (Photo: still from live streaming video)

The Gouna International Film Festival, founded by Egyptian business tycoon Naguib Sawiris, is set to open on 22 September at the popular Red Sea tourist city of El-Gouna.

“From the first moment, there was clarity in our vision; we wanted an international festival of high standards that also focuses on regional cinema,” said Gouna Film Festival director Intishal El-Tamimi at a press conference this morning.

During the press conference, Sawiris shared some of his thoughts and ambitions behind launching the festival.

“I love cinema, which is the primary motive behind starting this [festival]. Another reason is that I felt El-Gouna needs to be put on the map in cinema. It could be similar to Cannes, which was a touristic destination that became one of the top spots in the international film scene with its film festival,” he said.

So far, the festival has announced that two Egyptian films will be participating in the official competition for long features; Sheikh Jackson, directed by Amr Salama, and Photocopy, directed by Tamer Ashry.

El-Tamimi said that many of the films participating in the international film selection have won awards from the world’s biggest film festivals, including the Venice Film Festival, the Locarno Film Festival, and the Tribecca Film Festival.

“We are keen to present international films as well as serve as a platform for budding young Arab talents,” El-Tamimi said.

He added that the announcement of the festival's opening and its welcome party at Cannes Film Festival was met with excitement and support from both the international film community and the Egyptian film scene.

The festival has a star-studded international advisory board that includes Egyptian actress Youssra, Egyptian director Yousry Nasrallah, acclaimed Syrian director Mohamed Malas, Tunisian actress Hend Sabry, French-Afghan writer and filmmaker Atiq Rahimi, Palestinian actress, writer and director Hiam Abbas, Tunisian producer and distributor Tarek Ben Ammar, award-winning Mauritanian director and producer Abderrahmane Sissako, American actor Forest Whitaker, and German actress and filmmaker Margarethe Von Trotta.

Among the Egyptian stars who attended the press conference in support of the festival were Youssra, Nelly Karim and Ahmed El-Fishawy, as well as film director Amir Ramses, one of the biggest supporters of the festival.

El-Tamimi is supported as festival director by a team of organisers including Kamal Zadeh, Amr Mansi, and Egyptian actress Bushra.

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