Showcasing Local and International Cinema
By Hilary Diack
Once again cinephiles of Egypt will be able to enjoy a varied and thought-provoking range of offerings at the upcoming 38th edition of the Cairo International Film Festival. Running from the 15th to 24th of November 2016, the menu includes full-length films, short films and documentaries. Entries have been submitted from many countries, and standout films include Michael Moore’s Where to Invade Next, and In the Last Days of the City by young award-winning documentary-filmmaker Tamer El Said.
In addition to a full schedule of screening there will be seminars, lectures and associated events to attract a broad audience. Visitors are expected from both neighbouring countries and further afield, with some big name celebrities from abroad expected to join the ranks of the local stars, producers and directors.
The 3rd Cinema of Tomorrow International Competition will take place concurrently within the framework of CIFF. This covers short films, including fiction, animation, documentaries and experimental works. The competition throws the spotlight on up-and-coming filmmakers while building cultural bridges around the globe.
Cairo West Magazine sat with media expert and producer Amr Koura, to learn more about what is behind such a major event. Recently appointed as a consultant to the Advisory Committee, Koura has the breadth of experience and acumen to ensure that the important opening and closing ceremonies run smoothly and with the expected fanfare.
Following the success of recent Arabian Cinema Awards, held at Movenpick Media City in Cairo, Koura is enthusiastic about the impact this year’s CIFF will have within the community.
CWM: What changes can we expect to CIFF this year?
AK: In a nutshell, better organization, more attendance by stars from Egypt and abroad, and increased interest from the film community worldwide.
What are the benefits to local film industry?
CIFF was first launched in 1976 and was considered to be one of the top ten film festivals in the world. There is no reason why it can’t hold that place again. The benefits stretch far beyond the industry; this is an event that puts Egypt and its pool of talent firmly in the spotlight. It offers great exposure for our own cinema, and the undoubted creativity of Egypt’s filmmakers and stars.
What factors are important to ensure the success of CIFF 2016?
The community can play a vital role by supporting the festival in many ways. The Ministry of Tourism is giving a tremendous amount of help, and will assist in coordinating attendance by leading international stars. Marriott Hotels are our official hotel and are covering catering. The final night will take place in the spectacular garden of the Mena House at the foot of the Pyramids.
Promoters, the official organizers are sponsoring the opening dinner, and leading advertising and PR agency JWT, as the agency for the Egyptian Tourism Board is donating promotional materials along with their services. CBC will be offering airtime along with sponsor benefit packages and support.
We actively encourage local companies to see what services and products they can contribute in order to participate and allow the event to reach its full potential.
Where will the opening and closing ceremonies take place?
These will be lavish red carpet affairs at the iconic Cairo Opera House. The organization behind this is massive and needs to be finely tuned; attention to detail is key for us. There will be a special area for press and media, which will facilitate communication and coverage, and we expect many interesting interviews to result from CIFF this year. Of course there will be representatives of foreign press, especially from the industry, such as Variety and Hollywood Reporter.
Which film will have the honour to be first to be screened?
That privilege goes Women’s Day written by Hana Attiya, directed by Kamla Abu Zekry, and produced by Elham Shahin, the film also stars Elham Shahin, alongside Nelly Karim, Mahmoud Hemeda, Ahmed Daoud, Nehad El Sebai, Ahmed El Fishawi, Farouk El Fishawi, Hala Sedqi and Iyad Nasser.
The story revolves around the impact on women within a community when the local youth center decides to allocate a day at the swimming pool especially for women. The social, psychological and emotional reverberations are reflected succinctly in this masterful work.
What awards will be presented?
There are several:
- The Golden Pyramid for Best Film, to be presented to the producer.
- The Silver Pyramid – a Special Jury Prize for the Best Director
- The Naguib Mahfouz prize for the Best Screenplay
- A prize for the Best Actor
- A prize for the Best Actress
A prize for the Best Artistic Contribution
We then caught up with producer Mohamed Hefzy to find out more about what we can expect:
CWM: What other events will be integrated into CIFF this year?
MH: As per the previous year, I am looking after the coproduction conference of Cairo Film Festival, titled Cairo Film Connection, which is in its fourth edition this year. Filmmakers and producers with exciting projects, which we select come to meet with co-producers, sales companies, and other film experts that can help them to move their projects forward. The connection selects films in development, production, or post-production. There are also prizes given to the winning films as selected by a jury.
What important trends do you see in cinema festivals taking place?
Generally the big name directors all target Cannes, followed by Venice, Toronto, and then Berlin. Sundance and Telluride (the big US festivals) are very US centric. As far as sales, independent yet star-driven English language films still dominate the market, after of course big studio pictures from Hollywood.
For art house or auteur driven world cinema, France still remains the number one market, with hundreds of such films released every year.
Information regarding venues, screening and events can be found on the Cairo International Film Festival website: http://ciff.org.eg/