Egypt's political turmoil threatens cultural festivals

DPA and Ahram Online, Sunday 18 Aug 2013

The state of emergency, curfew and political turmoil in Egypt is leading organisers of cultural events and festivals to cancel their plans

Pro-Morsi rallies (Photo: Mai Shaheen)

The ongoing political crisis between pro-Morsi factions and security forces has brought the artistic scene in the Arab world's cultural capital into panic regarding the upcoming months' plans for different cultural spaces.

Many events and festivals have already been cancelled, such as El-Geneina's weekend programme, the Cairo Opera House summer festival and the 7th Arab Music festival scheduled to take place in Alexandria. The Alexandria festival was set to include Egyptian stars such as Hany Shaker, Aly El-Haggar, Medhat Saleh, Iman El-Bahr Darwish and iconic pianist and composer Omar Khairat, among others.

Many other institutions are considering postponing their plans for upcoming weeks.

Egyptian critic Samir Farid, president of the Cairo International Film Festival, told DPA that organisers are yet to decide whether the festival will be hosted at time intended this year. He said he would meet with the newly appointed Board of Trustees of the festival next Tuesday to make a decision.

The 35th edition of the Cairo International Film Festival took place during November and December in 2012, in the midst of political deadlock and clashes between protesters demanding a transparent and inclusive constitution drafting process, and for Mohamed Morsi to back down on a constitutional declaration that put his decision beyond judicial review.

Due to the ongoing violence at the time, and the limited marketing of the festival, the 35th edition saw an extremely low turnout, with most screening halls practically empty in spite of the quality of the films screened and affordable tickets of LE5 (less than $1).

Farid told DPA that due to the government's announced curfew and emergency law for the coing month, the movements of the festival's staff would be limited, making it challenging to stay on schedule for the festival to open in November.

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