The 10th round of the Luxor African Film Festival (LAFF) opens tomorrow (Friday 26 March) at the Karnak Temple under the slogan “Ten Years of Imagination’’ celebrating ten rounds of the festival, launched in 2012. The opening film will be This is Not a Burial, It’s a Resurrection directed by Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese from Lesotho. And the closing ceremony is scheduled for 1 April.
LAFF president, screenwriter Sayed Fouad and LAFF director, filmmaker Azza Al-Houseiny announced that this round will commemorate the late Egyptian actress Madiha Yousry, actor Mahmoud El Meligy, Tunisian filmmaker Nejib Ayed, Moroccan filmmaker and author Noureddine Saïl and Sudanese actor Al-Hadi Al-Siddiq. They added that Sudanese cinema will be the guest of honour during this round of the festival.
The festival’s management has not been able to announce this round’s full programme, a step that is pending Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouly confirming the approval of the return of festivals and large gatherings of cultural activities, banned for over three months now due to the second wave of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Although the festival is at risk of being cancelled, the management continued to prepare for this round, asserting its essential role of supporting cultural and artistic ties with our neighbours on African continent. It is worth noting that in March 2020, the 9th round of the festival closed one day before its due date when Madbouly decreed that activities involving large gatherings should be cancelled.
The 10th edition of LAFF will pay tribute to some of the stars of the film industry of the African continent: Malian filmmaker Cheick Oumar Sissoko, Moroccan actor Azelarab Kaghat, Tunisian actress Hend Sabry, Egyptian actor Mohyee Ismail, Egyptian filmmaker Ali Abdel-Khalek, and veteran Egyptian actor and producer Samir Sabry.
This year over 50 films from different parts of Africa will be screened in the various sections of the festival. The long narrative film competition includes eight films: For Rent directed by Islam Belal from Egypt; Air Conditioner directed by Fradique from Angola; Duga, The Scavengers directed by Abdoulaye Dao and Herve Eric Lengani from Burkina Faso; Zanka Contact directed by Ismail El Iraki from Morocco; The Milkmaid directed by Desmond Ovbiagele from Nigeria; The Fisherman’s Diary directed by Enah Johnscott from Cameroon; and Granma Nineteen and the Soviet Secret directed by João Ribeiro from Mozambique; the latter is also the festival’s opening film. And the jury of the competition brings Malian filmmakers Souleymane Cissé and Cheick Oumar Sissoko together with Egyptian filmmaker Kamla Abuzekry.
The long documentary film competition also includes eight films: from Burkina Faso, After the Crossing directed by Joël Akafou; from Morocco, Amghar directed by Bouchaib El Messaoudi; from Congo, Downstream to Kinshasa directed by Dieudo Hamadi; from Madagascar, Faritra: The Zone directed by Tovoniaina Rasoanaivo; from South Africa, Influence directed by Richard Poplak and Diana Neille; from Algeria, No More Stories directed by Ferhat Mouhali and Carol Filiu Mouhali; from Kenya, The Letter directed by Maia Lekow and Chris King; and from Zimbabwe, Two Good Hearts (Till Death Do Us Part) directed by Thomas Muziyirwa. The jury consists of Moroccan filmmaker Ismaël Ferroukhi, Sudanese filmmaker Hajouj Kouka and Egyptian producer Safei Eldin Mahmoud.
The short film competition includes 13 films: from Egypt, Kilo directed by Mohamed Salah, Faded Kohl directed by Shaimaa Tolba, Life Appointment directed by Amr ElBehidy and Night Shift directed by Karim Shaaban; from Ethiopia, A Fool God directed by Hiwot Admasu Getaneh; from Rwanda, Breaking Ground directed by Inès Girihirwe; from South Africa, Footprints directed by Imran Hamdulay; from Ghana, Good Night (Da Yie) directed by Anthony Nti; from Sudan, Listen to My Dance directed by Alyaa Sirelkhatim; from Tunisia, Manda directed by Heifel Ben Youssef; from Algeria, The Years of Illusions directed by Amroun Omar and Grim Slimane; from Morocco, Ultimate Ink directed by Yazid Elkadiri; and from Togo, Vous directed by Elisabeth Lemou. The jury includes Burkinabe filmmaker Salam Zampaligré, Sudanese producer Talal Afifi and Egyptian film editor Heba Othman.
As for the Diaspora competition, launched in the ninth round to replace the Human Rights Award, the only competition in LAFF to allow filmmakers from outside the continent to participate. This year it too includes eight films: Becoming Black directed by Ines Johnson, from Germany; Farewell Amor directed by Ekwa Msangi, from USA; Mrs. F directed by Chris Van der Vorm, from the Netherlands and Nigeria; Tilo Koto: Under the Sun directed by Sophie Bachelier and Valérie Malek, from France; Upheaval (Mundaça) directed by Welket Bungué, from Portugal; Zaho Zay directed by Maéva Ranaïvojaona and Georg Tiller, from Madagascar, Austria and France; and two more films from Netherlands: Prison for Profit directed by Femke van Velzen and Ilse van Velzen, and Stop Filming Us directed by Joris Postema.
One of the most important activities of LAFF over the past 10 rounds is hosting workshops in several artistic fields like filmmaking, acting, cinematography, animation, even ballet. This year Egyptian filmmaker Saad Hendawy will lead the International Independent Filmmaking Workshop which will include participants from Kenya, Namibia, Morocco, Sudan, South Sudan, Rwanda, and Egypt.
Every year LAFF supports the audience in Luxor and its vicinity not only by making available new and different releases of African cinema but also by putting some of the most recent commercial productions of the Egyptian films on its schedule in the Egyptian Panorama section. This year will see the screening of five of such films: The Black Box directed by Mahmoud Kamel; The Washing Machine directed by Essam Abdel-Hamid; Soulmate directed by Othman Abo Laban; Curfew directed by Amir Ramesis; and Fragile directed by Ahmed Rashwan. LAFF will also celebrate the bicentennial anniversary of the Russian writer Fyodor Dostoyevsky by screening two Egyptian films based on his novels, The Enemy Brothers and The Devils, both directed by Hossam Eddine Mostafa.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 25 March, 2021 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly