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Ahmed Shawky resigns as Cairo International Film Festival's artistic director following social media criticism

Shawky's resignation comes after strong opposition to his appointment on social media

Ahram Online , Tuesday 9 Jun 2020
Ahmed Shawky
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Egyptian film critic Ahmed Shawky has resigned from his role as artistic director of this year’s Cairo International Film Festival, scheduled to take place in November, the festival's advisory board has announced.

Shawky’s appointment was announced recently, but faced criticism online, with some critics pointing to “extremist” views in his writing.

The board said on Tuesday that it had decided unanimously to accept Shawky's resignation during a long meeting and that the festival organisers, headed by producer Mohamed Hefzy, thank him for his contribution to the festival in its previous editions.

He had served as acting artistic director of the festival last year.

"The Cairo International Film Festival is committed to proceeding with preparations for the 42nd edition and will announce further plans within the coming weeks while continuing to uphold our principles of championing diversity, bridging cultures, encouraging dialogue, celebrating new voices, and providing a platform for film talent from around the world and contributing to the development of the local and regional film industry," the press release reads.

The statement did not give any information about the reason for Shawky’s resignation, but criticism of some of his posts and writings had been widespread on social media in recent days.

Joseph Fahim, former director of programming of the Cairo International Film Festival, had commented that Shawky’s “odious views [were] consistently propagated over a decade."

Among his "highly inappropriate" comments quoted were some about a major incidence of football violence at Port Said Stadium in 2012 during a Masry-Ahly league match, which saw 70 Ahly fans and one policeman killed in the bloodiest event in Egypt's football history.

In posts on social media in 2014, Shawky used strong terms such as "carcass" when writing about the death of Ahly victims.

His sharp views extended to cinema; in some of his writings he implied that directors of films dealing with Syrian refugees were exploiting the Syrian tragedy to promote their films.

Following the social media campaign against him, Shawky apologised for his comments, saying, "I confess in some personal writings dating back to 2014, I used hurtful words related to the fans of Ahly and the victims of Port Said. I apologise for them. I am aware they caused pain to the families of the departed."

He has since shut down his social media accounts. 

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