Cairo Film Festival opens with strong revolutionary air

Ahram Online, Thursday 29 Nov 2012

Actresses wore black to mourn revolutionary martyrs while actors chanted, “Long live Egypt!” at 35th Cairo International Film Festival opening ceremony last night

Cairo International Film Festival 2012 Opening Ceremony
Cairo International Film Festival 2012 Opening Ceremony

Running from 29 November to 6 December, the first post-January 25 Revolution edition of the Cairo International Film Festival is dedicated to a revolutionary Egypt.

The festival openied Wednesday at the Cairo Opera House after being postponed due to large anti-Morsi protests that filled Tahrir Square to the brim Tuesday.

Usually a chance to pose for the camera and parade lavish gowns, the red carpet at this year’s Cairo International Film Festival opening ceremony was avoided by Egypt’s most renowned actresses. Instead, stars, including Yosra, Elham Shahin and Sabreen, were dressed in black last night, declaring that their attire was a sign of respect and mourning for the martyrs of the revolution.

Moments after stepping onto the main theatre’s stage at the Cairo Opera House on opening night, festival director Ezzat Abo Ouf broke into tearful chants of “Long live Egypt, long live Egypt!”

“Forgive me, for being a bit too emotional,” Abo Ouf asked of the crowd.

A five minute walking distance keeps the Cairo Opera House and Tahrir Square apart, and on this opening night it was barely felt. Actor Amr Yousef asked the crowd to stand for a minute to honour the martyrs of the Egyptian and Arab revolutions, and commended those protesting in Tahrir Square as he spoke for being “determined to pursue a pathway towards freedom and dignity.”

“If we stay silent for a moment we would hear their chants and their heartbeats,” he said poignantly.

The actor said that this festival perpetuates the adamant support of Egyptian actors and artists for freedom of expression and freedom of the arts.

Minister of Culture Mohamed Saber Arab inaugurated the event, and expressed the determination of the festival committee to run the festival on schedule, against the odds.

“It was hoped that this festival would be held at a time when Egypt was in a more stable state, yet they were determined to hold it despite all obstacles.”

In his speech, Saber Arab linked the January 25 Revolution to art and culture, stating, “Revolutions have always been a source of inspiration for creativity.”

He asked the start-studded audience to pursue the arts as a means of revolutionary expression, and praised Cairo for being the cultural capital of the East.

Established in 1976 as the first showcase of cinematic art in the Arab world, the Cairo International Film Festival this year brings 175 films from 64 countries to an Egyptian audience.

Presiding over the jury of this year’s International Competition for Feature Films is Marco Müller, who directed the Venice International Fillm Festival for eight years. Egyptian actor Mahmoud Abdel Aziz has been chosen as president of the Arabic Film Competition, and Egyptian scriptwriter Ghada Shahbender is the 35th CIFF president for the Human Rights Film Competition.

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