On it’s first day, 21 September the CineGouna Bridge held it’s first master class titled “Renovation and Preservation: Everything Old is New Again!” by founder of the Independent Filmmaker Project (IFP) Sandra Schulberg. It was moderated by Jay Weissberg. IFP (Independent Filmmaker Project) is America’s largest association of independent filmmakers, and Schulberg is the founder and president of IndieCollect, a non-profit organisation that aims to rescue and restore American independent cinema. She worked as a producer for various world acclaimed films like Waiting for the Moon (1987).
At the beginning Schulberg said, “If we succeed to build a good and strong film industry, so we have to find the strong infrastructure to appropriately preserve and store the material. IndieCollect is focused on working with the original filmmakers before they pass away, but unfortunately, we lose tens of original films every week by the death of it’s original filmmaker.” She continued that “restoration faces many challenges due to limited budgets. Obtaining the negatives of the films is another challenge because most of the original materials have been stored in very bad conditions, where sometimes it is stored in home fridges to preserve it’s quality. Establishing a database is as significant as the films’ restoration itself, where those films become reachable on search engines.” She declared that an agreement was signed between her foundation and Google, which will provide the database for restored films.
CineGouna also hosted the roundtable discussion, “Refugee Voices in the Film Industry” on Saturday 21 September, sponsored by IEFTA (International Emerging Film Talent Association) within the framework of El Gouna’s Cinema of Humanity Initiative. The roundtable was moderated by Swedish filmmaker and producer Ragnhild Ek and the participants were Senior Manager at UNHCR Daniela Cicchella, filmmaker Amin Dora, humanitarian and social work specialist Thuraya Ismail, Senior Policy Advisor UNHCR Shaden Khallaf, Jordanian actress Saba Mubarak, Syrian actor Qays Sheikh Najib and Egyptian filmmaker Amr Salama.
The discussion highlighted the effect of the film industry on the refugee issue, with Senior Policy Advisor UNHCR Shaden Khallaf explaining how films and drama are a key player in dealing with refugee and migrant issues with strong visuals in a film able to empower and play an informative role for the audience and to enlarge the humanitarian films in the field. Actress Saba Mubarak described her experience in a Jordanian TV series about the challenges in refugee camps in Jordan commenting “All the stories in the TV series were real”. Amr Salama explained that art could be a very strong tool to promote human rights, especially refugee rights around the world.
Variety Magazine Award
A ceremony was held last afternoon at the Marina Open-Air Theatre to announce the Variety Magazine Award with the presence of Festival Director Intishal Al Timimi and a number of Variety representatives, announcing the Sudanese filmmaker Suhaib Gasmelbari the winner for his film Talking About Trees, screened at El Gouna Film Festival’s Feature Documentary Competition this year.
Variety Magazine Award
Gasmelbari was born in 1979 in Sudan, he studied cinema at the University of Paris VIII and worked as an editor and camera operator. He worked with journalists on reports for channels like Al Qarra and France 24. He also wrote and directed several short narrative films and documentaries. Gasmelbari’s 2017 documentary Sudan’s Forgotten Films was named the Arts and Culture Story of the Year at the 2018 FPA Media Awards. Talking About Trees is his debut feature film, and it received the Special Prize of the Jury at the Istanbul International Film Festival and the Glasshütte Original Documentary Award at the Panorama Audience Award at the 69th Berlinale.
Ihsan Abdel-Quddous exhibition
El Gouna Film Festival opened an exhibition on the late star novelist Ihsan Abdel-Quddous at the TU Berlin El Gouna Campus on 21 September with the attendance of Founder of El Gouna Film Festival Naguib Sawiris, El Gouna Founder Samih Sawiris and their father businessman Onsi Sawiris, co-founder of the festival Amr Mansy, festival director Intishal Al Timimi, actress and COO and festival co-founder Boushra, actress Yousra, filmmaker Inas Al-Deghedi and Ahmed Abdel-Quddous, the son of Ihsan Abdel Quddous.
Ihsan Abdel-Quddous exhibition
The exhibition commemorates the 100th birth anniversary of the late novelist, showcasing personal items borrowed from his house in Zamalek, such as the wooden desk on which he wrote, personal portraits of him by famous Egyptian artists that had been displayed in his house, original first editions of his books as well as original posters of films based on them: La Anam (Sleepless), Embratouriyet Meim (Empire M), Al-Tariq Al-Masdoud (The Blocked Road), Ana Horra (I’m Free) and many others. The exhibition also showcases the personal certificates of appreciation of Abdel-Quddous, bank cheque payments for some of his works, prizes and awards including the Nile Medal as well as a collection of his personal pens and letters and original handwritten documents, journalistic works, rare photographs and cartoons of him.
Compiled by Soha Hesham
*A version of this article appears in print in the 19 September, 2019 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.