Under the slogan “Cinema, the quest of immortality”, a press conference of the Luxor African Film Festival (LAFF) took place last week to announce the details of the upcoming, 12th round (4-10 February). According to honorary president actor Mahmoud Hemida, the slogan reflects the importance of public awareness of cinema: the vital role that film plays in the life of human beings is one of the means to immortality. He also stressed the key role that LAFF has played in African filmmaking since its inaugural round in 2012.
LAFF founding president screenwriter Sayed Fouad and LAFF co-founder and director filmmaker Azza Al-Houseiny announced that this round is dedicated to the late Algerian actress Shafia Boudraa, Tunisian actor Hisham Rostom, Senegalese filmmaker Ousmane Sembene and Egyptian actor Salah Mansour. The festival will present honorary awards to Senegalese filmmaker Mansour Sora Wade, Mozambican producer Pedro Pimenta, Egyptian actress Hala Sedky, Egyptian composer Hisham Nazih and Egyptian actor Mohamed Ramadan.
This year the festival changed its structure to include three competitions instead of four, similar to the inaugural round, combining narrative with documentary in each competition. A total of 55 films will be screened in the various its sections. The Long Film Competition includes 12 films: A Daughter’s Tribute To Her Father, Souleymane Cisse by Fatou Cisse (Documentary, Mali), Girl, Taken by Francois Verster and Simon Wood (Documentary, South Africa), Gazing at Stars by David Constantin (Narrative, Mauritius) Xalé by Moussa Sene Absa (Narrative, Sénégal-Côte d’Ivoire), No Simple Way Home by Akuol de Mabior (Documentary, South Sudan), El Gotra by Younes Ben Hajria (Documentary, Tunisia), The Life After by Anis Djaad (Narrative, Algeria), Citizen Kwame by Yuhi Amuli (Narrative, Rwanda), Shimoni by Angela Wamai (Narrative, Kenya), Le taxi, le cinéma et moi by Salam Zampaligré (Documentary, Burkina Faso), Hair House by Malika Maa El-Einin (Documentary, Morocco), Far From the Nile by Sherif El-Katsha (Documentary, Egypt).
The Long Film Jury consists of Senegalese filmmaker Mansour Sora Wade, Tunsian filmmaker Sonia Chamkhi, Moroccan actress Amal Ayouch, Egyptian screenwriter Abdelrehim Kamal and Egyptian producer and screenwriter Mohamed Hafzy.
The Short Film Competition includes 15 films: The Broken Mask by Idhebor Kagho (Narrative, Nigeria) Itara by Keni Kassim Rugabisha (Narrative, Rwanda), Nejma Mars 2020 by Laila Msefer (Narrative, Morocco), La Danse des Béquilles by Yoro Lidel Niang (Documentary, Senegal), Une Autre Blanche by Medessè Agohoundjè (Narrative, Benin), Rehla by Jamil Najjar (Narrative, Tunisia), A Colourful Life by Lionel Nishimwe (Narrative, Burundi), Blue Lagoon Street by Oliver Quansah (Narrative, Ghana), Trace by Farag Maiouf (Narrative, Libya), Ma Hashe by Tokoloho Africa Masemene (Documentary, South Africa), Big Day by Ahmed Samir (Narrative, Egypt), Worth Than a 100 Men by Ahmed Moawad (Narrative, Egypt), Dear Rola by Marie Badir (Narrative, Egypt), He is Dead Now by Tarek Al-Sherbiny (Narrative, Egypt), Dear Ward by Marwa El-Sharkawy (Documentary, Egypt)
The Short Film Jury consists of Senegalese journalist and filmmaker Oumy Ndour, Zambian filmmaker Paul S. Wilo, Tunisian filmmaker Latifa Doghri, Egyptian singer and actress Bushra and Egyptian Actor Karim Kassem.
The Diaspora Competition includes 6 films: Flayed Alive by Anne Richard (Documentary, Senegal), Algerian Master by Bouchera Azzouz (Documentary, Algeria), Talia’s Journey by Christopher Rolin (Narrative, Belgium-Senegal), The Last Letter to Nasser by Fayza Harby (Documentary, Germany), Juwaa by Naganji Mutiri (Narrative, Belgium), Harka by Lotfy Nathan (Narrative, Tunisia).
The Diaspora Jury consists of Mozambican producer Pedro Pimenta, Lebanese Film Critic Ibrahim El-Arees and Egyptian actress Liqaa Al Khamisi.
The International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI) will give its award to one film in any of the three competitions. The jury consists of Nadjib Sagna (Senegal), Massimo Lecce (Italy) and Mohamed Sayed Abdel Rahim (Egypt).
This year, The Factory Initiative (TFI) in its second year is dedicated to supporting short film directors from Egypt. The initiative, which is directed by writer and filmmaker Nahed Nasr, will hold 10 short fiction projects. These projects will be presented by their makers in an intensive workshop during the festival week to give them the support essential for completing the stage of preparation and development. The selected projects are Ali Meets Ghosts by Doha Hamdy, Alo by Fatima El Rais, Brown Roots by Ahmed El Shebiny, By the Kiosk by Bassant Ghoneimy, DECENT by Abdo Samir, Desertion by Ahmed El Shamandy, TOSS by Nourhan Abdelsallam, Tricycle by Mohamed Abdelaziz, Your guide to get rid of constant depression by Seif-Allah Hany, It is forbidden to stand or wait by Amr Gouda.
The Projects Jury consists of Egyptian filmmaker Amir Ramses, Jordanian filmmaker and Co-Founder of Amman Film Festival Nada Doumani, and Egyptian film critic Ahmed Shawky
Another activity of the industry section of the festival is the Producers’ Platform in Luxor (PPL), which is a bridge connecting film production companies, funders, individual producers and project holders. PPL will hold discussion panels and masterclasses.
One of LAFF’s main goals is the community service achieved through the different workshops that the festival holds every year. This year, LAFF will hold 10 different workshops: Mobile Cinematography by Mohamed Shafik, Acting by Ahmed Mokhtar, We Draw Films by Wael Nour, Cinema for Children by Shweikar Khalifa, Theatre for Children by Samer Tarik, Simplifying the Egyptian Identity by Mohamed Al-Senossy, The Film Industry Book Alaa Mahmoud, Kawthar Younes and Noura Al-Nafthy, Making Accessories and Jewelries by Fayrouz Abdel-Salam, Manufacturing Heritage Boats by Said El-Bagoury, Decore Fawzy Al-Awamry.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 26 January, 2023 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.