In front of a full room, the officials of the 38th Cairo International Film Festival presented the main details of the upcoming festival. The administration of the festival, headed by President Magda Wassef, announced the decision to return to downtown, after many years of the Festival taking place only inside the Cairo Opera House.
The late Egyptian director Mohamed Khan, Malian director Cheick Oumar Sissoko, Palestinian producer Hussein El Qala, and Egyptian star Yehia El Fakharany will be honored with the Faten Hamama Honorary Award at the 38th Cairo International Film festival taking place November 15 to 24, 2016. The Faten Hamama Excellence Award will go to German director Christian Petzold – also President of the International Jury, Chinese director Jia Zhang-Ke, and Egyptian actor Ahmed Helmy. China will be the guest of honor of this year, and a seminar on Chinese cinema will take place during the Festival.
Another seminar on “Film regulations in Egypt and abroad” will also take place, which Hassan Khalaf described as essential in solving the problems faced by the festival. He also mentioned the protocol signed between the Ministry of Culture and the Egyptian Chamber of Media Industry, which will facilitate the live coverage by TV channels of the Opening and Closing ceremonies for free. Before ending his speech, Khalaf thanked the Chinese Ministry of Culture for its support to the festival.
Hisham Demiry then insisted on the high-level cooperation between the Ministry of Tourism and the Festival’s administration, stressing the close relationship between tourism and film as two sides of a same coin, and emphasizing on the fact the Ministry strongly supports any event having a positive impact on the reputation of Egypt. He described films a “soft power that improves our image in the region and the world.”
Artistic Director Youssef Cherif Rizkallah then disclosed technical details of the festival’s program, including a list of award-winning films that will participate, as well as the participation of the festival in a global celebration to honor Shakespeare, and a new section that will present to the Arab and international guests of the festival the new Egyptian cinema. He acknowledged the difficulties for the Festival to screen world premieres movies, but stressed than the festival’s administration succeeded in obtaining the rights to screen some very important movies, such as Florence Foster Jenkins, starring Merrill Streep. He also detailed some movies participating in the competition for the Oscar of the Best Film in a Foreign Language, as well as a list of documentaries, which will participate in the festival. He revealed that 75 guests representing 32 countries will attend the festival, and that, to avoid congestion, Egyptian films participating in the international competition – A Day for Women and The Other Land – will be screened twice a day.
Amal Gamal Eddin for her part referred to the strategic partnership between the Ministry of Youth and the festival, and the role of art and culture as a way to eradicate extremist ideologies. Magda Wassef also underlined the support of Gaber Nassar, President of Cairo University, and encouraged students to attend the screenings.
Chen Dongyun, Cultural Counselor of the Chinese Embassy in Egypt, won the admiration and appreciation of the audience by delivering her speech in Arabic, emphasizing on the historical relationships between Egypt and China, celebrated this year by the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relationships between these two countries. She said that China was keen to introduce Egyptian audiences to Chinese culture, and expressed her wish to consolidate the cooperation in the field of film production. She hoped that the presence of China as a guest of honor was an important step towards more cooperation between the two countries.
Directors of the different parallel programs then took the stage. Ahmed Hassouna, director of the Critics’ Week, explained the choice to select the movie Home, Sweet Home (Kosovo/Macedonia) to open the program (that runs from November 17-23 ) and noted the participation of two Arab movies, The Last of Us (Tunisia/Qatar/UAE), and Imperator of Austria (Lebanon), in addition to the panorama of German films, a workshop on Film Criticism, a seminar on “Film Criticism in the Arab World”, and a commemoration of Moroccan critic Mustafa Almsnawa. Sayed Fouad, director of the Prospects of Arab Cinema, announced the release of a book by Samir Farid on “Arab Spring Cinema”, a seminar that will be attended by many Arab filmmakers, and the poster that honors late director Mohamed Khan. Four films will make their world premiere during the week. Two films will be granted a 75,000 EGP prize, while a third one will receive a 50,000 EGP prize. Saad Hendawy, director of the Cinema of Tomorrow program, announced the selection of 30 films representing 25 countries – from among 900 films received. She explained that 2 prizes will be given on behalf of the Ministry of Youth and Sports: the Youssef Chahine Prize for the Best Short Film is granted 30,000 EGP, while the Special Jury Prize is granted 20,000 EGP. Hendawy also noted that this year, a workshop will take place, and an agreement has been reached by the Cinema of Tomorrow program and Clermont-Ferrand film festival. For the Cairo Film Connection, Hossam Alwan announced that 14 films have been selected from among the 45 submitted.