Ismailia Film Festival says honouring Mahdi Fleifel, Salwa Mohamed Ali & Steve James as it unveils 25th edition

Ahram Online , Monday 26 Feb 2024

The 25th Ismailia International Festival for Documentary and Shorts (IIFDS) has revealed the three honourees of the year: Danish-Palestinian director Mahdi Fleifel; Egyptian actress Salwa Mohamed Ali; and American film producer and director Steve James.



The oldest specialized film festival in Egypt, the Middle East, and Africa is scheduled for 28 February through 5 March. 

Fleifel is best known for his two shorts A Man Returned (2016), which won the Silver Bear and the European Film Nomination at the Berlinale, and A Drowning Man (2017) which was in the Official Selection at the Cannes Film Festival 2017.

Ali is a film, television, and theatre actress who gained recognition portraying Khala Khayreya, a lead character in the highly acclaimed children’s television show Alam Simsim. Later on, Ali worked in Disney Arabic, where she was the voice of many animated characters. In the 2000s, she took important, albeit secondary, roles in many highly successful films and TV series.

James created several successful documentaries, including the multi-award-winning Hoop Dreams (1994), Stevie (2002), The Interrupters (2011), Life Itself (2014), and Abacus: Small Enough to Jail (2016).

The IIFDS will also celebrate the birth centenary of the late producer, screenwriter, and translator Abdelkader El-Telmissany (1924-2003), one of the pioneers of documentary films in Egypt. 

Together with his brother Hassan, El-Telmissany founded El-Telmissany Brothers Company (1968), the first Egyptian company specialized in the production of documentary films. 

El-Telmissany made important contributions to translating theatrical works to Arabic, including plays by Chekhov, Brecht, Kafka and Eugène Ionesco. He also wrote scripts for radio series about literary works. 

Late renowned Egyptian filmmaker Shadi Abdel-Salam (1930-1986) will be celebrated through an exhibition showcasing photographs taken by Mohamed Bakr, who followed the director throughout the many years of his cinematic practice. The exhibition will be complemented with photos from the sets and films directed by the filmmaker.

At a press conference, the festival also revealed the jury of each of its competitions.

The jury of the Official Competition that screens long documentary films includes Stefano Savona (Italy, president of the jury), Ahmed M. Al-Mulla (Saudi Arabia), Amal Ramsis (Egypt), Daniel Kotter (Germany), Emiko Stock (Serbia), and Terri Ginsberg (US). This segment will showcase a total of 10 films from around the world.

The jury of the Short Fiction and Animation Films, consisting of 20 titles, will comprise Alisa Lebow (jury president, US), Sabri Fawaz (Egypt), Henda Haouala (Tunisia), and Zoe Schmederer (Germany).

The special segment dedicated to students' films will have a jury consisting of the Egyptian artists: Mohamed Shafik (jury president), Manar Hosny, and Ahmed Fawzy Saleh. They will watch a total of 17 films chosen from all student submissions.

The FIPRESCI Competition will have Jihane Bougrine (jury president, Morocco), Doha El-Wardaney (Egypt), and Soumaya Azzam (Lebanon) in its jury panel.

The festival will present seven books about the industry and publications about the life and career of Fleifel, James, and Ali.

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