Highlights from the upcoming Gouna Film Festival's 5th edition

Ahram Online , Tuesday 12 Oct 2021

Scheduled to take place within the coming days, the 5th edition of the Gouna Film Festival (GFF) is gearing up to showcase a large selection of Arab and international movies for audiences at the resort town of El-Gouna.

El Gouna Film Festival

The festival, which will take place from 14 to 22 October, will also include numerous other activities such as seminars, workshops, an exhibition, and industry-related events such as the Cine Gouna Platform, which each year selects remarkable film projects in development (narratives and documentaries).

Commemorating Polish filmmaker Krzysztof Kieślowski

This year, the festival commemorates the late Polish director Krzysztof Kieślowski on the 25th anniversary of his passing by dedicating its Special Presentations section to some of his most celebrated films.

Apart from screening Kieślowski’s best-known films, the GFF is also organising a conversation with renowned Polish film and theatre actor Zbigniew Zamachowski, who has starred in over 200 Polish and foreign films during his illustrious career. During the conversation, Zamachowski will be digging deep into his experiences working with Kieślowski on Three Colors: White.

Egyptian production designer Onsi Abou Seif will be the curator and art director for the Krzysztof Kieslowski Retrospective Exhibition.

Lights on the cinema heavyweights

A few renowned figures will be awarded during the festival. They include Palestinian actor and director Mohamed Bakri, who will receive the Career Achievement Award. Bakri is known for “fearlessly turning over the storyline to look at what’s underneath. He has worked on over 40 films including Beyond the Walls (1984) and Haïfa (1996). He also directed several documentaries such as Jenin, Jenin (2003),” GFF says about the filmmaker.

Egyptian star Ahmed El-Sakka will also receive the GFF’s Career Achievement Award. El-Sakka’s TV breakthrough was in Who Doesn’t Love Fatma? and Rabie’s Other Half. His cinema career was launched with Saidi in the AUC, before quickly becoming a favourite hero for action and romance. El-Sakka’s action filmography include Amr Arafa’s Africano, Tarek Al-Arian’s Tito, Marwan Hamed’s Ibrahim El-Abyad, Sandra Nashaat’s El-Maslaha, as well as Sherif Arafa’s Mafia and The Island film series. His versatility as an actor shows also in numerous romantic roles such as Saeed Hamed’s Shorts, T-Shirt and a Cap and Kamla Abu Zikri’s About Love and Passion; and comedies including Amr Arafa’s The Consul's Son and Ali Idris’ Father.

Vibrant programming

A total of 20 Arab films are in the lineup competing in the narrative, documentary and short film competitions. The titles include The Sea Ahead by Ely Dagher (Lebanon, Feature Narrative Competition), Casablanca Beats by Nabil Ayouch (Morocco, Feature Narrative Competition), Costa Brava by Mounia Akl (Lebanon, Feature Narrative Competition), Feathers by Omar El Zohairy (Egypt, Feature Narrative Competition), Captains of Za’atari by Ali El Arabi (Egypt, Feature Documentary Competition), Night by Ahmad Saleh (Jordan-Palestine, Short Film Competition), A Dike by Bilel Bali (Tunisia, Short Film Competition), as well as numerous other gems from the region.

The international cinema will be represented by Compartment No. 6 by Juho Kuosmanen (Finland, Germany, Estonia, Russia), Murina by Antoneta Alamat Kusijanović (Croatia, Brazil, USA, Slovenia), The Blind Man Who Did Not Want to See Titanic by Teemu Nikki (Finland), I Am Your Man by Maria Schrader (Germany), and One Second by Zhang Yimou (China), to name but a few.

The jury comprises many renowned names including Emmy International-nominated actress Menna Shalaby on the jury for the Feature Narrative Competition, while acclaimed directors Kamla Abou Zekry and Tamer Ashry will be part of the Short Film Competition jury. Egyptian actress Arwa Gouda will be a jury member for the Gouna Green Star Award in a segment that recognises excellence in filmmaking, highlighting the most pressing environmental issues of the day.

The GFF will also present 11 films in its Cinema for Humanity section. Launched in 2017, this section supports, recognises and celebrates films that have had a positive impact not only on the industry, but on communities around the world. The Cinema for Humanity segment’s winner receives the Audience Award.

Seminars, workshops, discussions

The festival will hold numerous talks and seminars. The highlights include a panel discussion titled ‘Breathe, Talk, Perform: A Take on Psychological Wellbeing of Actors,’ moderated by Medfest Egypt's founder Mina El-Naggar, featuring acclaimed actors Ahmed Malek and Mohamed Farrag and actress May Elghety. It will also include a discussion on depicting ancient Egypt in film, moderated by actress and co-founder and COO of the GFF Bushra and filmmaker Mahmoud Rashad.

A masterclass organised in collaboration with Ryerson University Cairo Campus will be led by Stefan Grambart and will focus on ‘Immersive Storytelling,’ taking participants through the creative process of working in storytelling.

Another masterclass titled ‘A Netflix Guide to Post Production’ will be conducted by Karim Boutros Ghali and Frank Piazza, two leading post production experts from Netflix.

Award-winning director and screenwriter Darren Aronofsky will also be giving a masterclass. Aronofsky is behind mind-bending modern classics such as Black Swan, Requiem for a Dream, and Mother. His debut feature film Pi premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, winning Best Director.

Another interesting component of the festival’s events is the Cinematic Costume Design workshop, hosted by prolific costume designers Deborah Landis and Reem El-Adl.

The GFF has also revealed that “after the success of its first CinemaTech track pitch competition last year, the entrepreneurial ecosystem hub is set to host another competition, inviting Egypt’s entrepreneurs to step forward and pitch their tech-powered innovations for the forever evolving film industry.”

For easier access to the programming, the festival has launched the Gouna Film Festival application for Apple and Android.

The annual event is held in El-Gouna, a luxurious Red Sea resort town established by businessman Samih Sawiris and sponsored by Orascom Development Holding.

The festival was founded by Naguib Sawiris and Samih Sawiris, together with Bushra Rozza, who is also the GFF’s COO. The festival’s director is Intishal Al-Tamimi, the executive director is Amal El-Marsi, and the artistic director is Amir Ramses.

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