On Monday 26 August, El-Gouna Film Festival (GFF) held a press conference at the Ritz Carlton Hotel announcing the launch of its third edition that will run through 19-27 September.
This edition will be attended by festival founder Naguib Sawiris, El-Gouna founder Samih Sawiris, CEO and co-founder of the festival Amr Mansi, COO and festival co-founder Bushra Abdallah Rozza, CFO and festival co-founder Kamal Zadeh, CEO of Orascom Development Holding Khaled Bichara, and festival director Intishal Al-Timimi.
The festival aims at showcasing a wide variety of films from around the globe, it also seeks cooperation and cultural exchange through connecting filmmakers from the region with their international counterparts through the CineGouna Platform to help Arab filmmakers find artistic and financial support.
The festival comprises three official competitions; the Feature Narrative Competition, the Feature Documentary Competition and the Short Film Competition, in addition to the Official Selection Out of Competition and Special Presentations with a total of 80 films in the festival.
In the third edition, CineGouna SpringBoard received 133 submissions (92 projects in development and 41 films in post-production), and like every year the CineGouna Bridge will present roundtable discussions, workshops, presentations and master classes with key industry professionals and experts on a wide range of subjects related to the social and business aspects of cinema.
Engineer Naguib Sawiris said, "The festival is now an accomplished event around the world despite being only three years old. It has embraced the film scene and its key players. El-Gouna has become a platform that allows civilisations to get closer and dialogue through the exchange of arts and culture.”
"Since its inception in 2017, the festival has rapidly built success as one of the leading cultural events in the region.”
Engineer Samih Sawiris said, “With Orascom Development's relentless efforts to make El-Gouna a cultural and artistic hub, we are pleased to announce the construction of El-Gouna Convention and Culture Center,” announcing that a new building will host the fourth edition of the festival as well as major orchestras from around the world.
COO and co-founder of the festival Bushra Abdallah Rozza said, "One of the names that will be honoured this year is a leading figure of the comedy genre and one of the most influential of his generation, Mohamed Henedy," who will receive GFF Career Achievement Award.
"Usually festivals don't honour comedians despite the fact that the comedy genre is very influential in the box office," she said.
Festival director Intishal Al-Timimi said, "The GFF will grant the Creative Achievement Award to the acclaimed Palestinian filmmaker Mai Masri alongside the Egyptian star Mohamed Henedy."
This year, 12 films are participating in the Feature Narrative Competition, nine films in the Feature Documentary Competition, 23 films in the Short Film Competition, as well as three films in GFF’s Special Presentations programme. The festival will be screening 21 films in its Out of Competition section, which brings the present total count to 68 confirmed titles.
The Official Selection Out of Competition includes; Parasite, winner of the Palme d’Or at the 72nd Cannes Film Festival, Bacurau and Les Misérables, the joint winners of the Jury Prize at the 72nd Cannes Film Festival; Once in Trubchevsk, which was part of the Un Certain Regard section of the 72nd Cannes Film Festival; Pedro Almodóvar’s latest film Pain and Glory starring Antonio Banderas, who was awarded Best Actor at the 72ndCannes Film Festival; and acclaimed filmmaker Karim Aïnouz’s latest film The Invisible Life of Eurídice Gusmão, winner of the Un Certain Regard Prize at the 72nd Cannes Film Festival.
The jury of the Feature Narrative Competition will include Egyptian film star Sawsan Badr, while the Feature Documentary jury will include Egyptian costume designer Nahed Nasrallah. Film director Marwan Hamed will head the Short Film Competition jury, with Tunisian star Dorra Zarrouk.
Celebrating the centennial birth of the late acclaimed Egyptian writer and journalist Ihsan Abdel-Quddous, the GFF will host an exhibition honouring his memory. The exhibition will include his handwritten notes of both fiction and journalistic pieces, representing a large collection of his works as well as certificates of appreciation, exquisite furniture, magnificent paintings, and rare photographs.
In the official press release, Al-Timimi said, "This year, we will host retrospective screenings of some newly restored film classics, such as Stolen Kisses (1968) by French auteur François Truffaut and Caméra d'Afrique (1983) by Tunisian director Férid Boughedir. Additionally, we have the Egyptian classic The Well of Deprivation (1969) by Kamal El Sheikh, celebrating the centennial of the birth of renowned Egyptian screenwriter and novelist Ihsan Abdel Quddous.”
He also commented on the budget decrease in comparison to the first edition, saying, "Budget sustainability is one of GFF’s main objectives. In spite of the expansion of the festival activities and programmes, we are not looking forward to having a bigger budget that turns into a burden. In the first edition, up to 85 percent of the budget was provided by the founders, the Sawiris family. In the second edition, however, they contributed 55 percent of the budget. This year, they are contributing around 45 to 50 percent. The rest of the budget is secured by the growing number of companies and entities that are very enthusiastic to be part of the event.
“There is also a growing interest from the Egyptian Ministry of Culture, as well as other governmental entities, in the festival’s activities, and they contribute with logistical support. In this edition, we received support from Orascom Development, Beltone Financial, O West, Orange, Euronews, Carrier, Makadi Heights, This is Egypt, Mercedes-Benz, SIXT, dstore, Concrete, Pepsi and Egypt Air. Generally speaking, there is a growing interest in supporting the festival by many new organisations."
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