The 29th last words
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CIFF Award winners: (anti-clockwise from top) êideistö Parhain (Mother of Mine, Finland), Syri Magjik (Magic Eye, Albania) and Folgeschöden (Seeds of Doubt, Germany)
The 29th Cairo International Film Festival (CIFF) awards were announced on Friday 10 December in a ceremony presided over by CIFF president Cherif El-Soubashy.
The CIFF Golden Pyramid went to êideistö Parhain (Mother of Mine, Finland, 2005), which also received the best director award (Klaus Hörö) and best actress award (Marjaana Maijala).
The film depicts nine-year-old Eero, who is sent by his mother into refuge in Sweden, along with the 70,000 children evacuated during the Finnish-Russian war (1939-1940).
Syri Magjik (Magic Eye, Albania, 2005) received the CIFF's second prize, the Silver Pyramid, the best actor award (Bujar Lako), the "Saadeddin Wahbaa" Award for best screenplay (Kujtim Cashku and Vath Koreshi), as well as the International Critics' Federation (FIPRESCI) Award, which went to director Kujtim Cashku. Syri Magjik is set in the southern Albanian town of Gjirokaster where, in 1997 with the country on the verge of civil war, retired photographer Petro unwittingly captures a tragedy on his super 8mm camera, and he travels to the capital, Tirana, to have the film developed as quickly as possible.
The best Arab film award went to Yom Jadeed fi Sana'a Qadeema (A New Day in Old Sanaa, Yemen-UK, 2005), directed by Bader Ben Hirsi; while the "Naguib Mahfouz" award for best debut feature film went to Egyptian-German director Samir Nasr for Folgeschöden (Seeds of Doubt, Germany, 2005).
The editor of Fotini Siskopoulou's Rakushka (Shell, Greece, 2004) Panos Voutsaras received a special honorary certificate; certificates also went to Folgeschöden for music (Oliver Biehler), the French Cédric Klapisch's Les Poupées Russes (The Russian Dolls) for set design (Stephanie Guitard) and the Iranian So Close, So Far for cinematography (Hamid Khouri Abnad).
American actor Morgan Freeman and Palestinian-Dutch director Hani Abu Assad -- the latter's Al-Janna Al-Aan (Paradise Now) was screened in CIFF's "Arabs in World Cinema" -- received honorary Golden Pyramids.
CIFF honoured Arab artists who made a name on the international film scene, such as the Syrian producer Nader Atassi, Lebanese producer Jean Zaloum, Lebanese-Swedish director Josef Fares, Jordanian-American director Omar Naïm, Moroccan-French actor Saïd Taghmaoui, Palestinian actor and director Mohamed Bakri, Iraqi-Swiss director Samir Banout and veteran star Omar Sharif.
A special tribute to late Syrian-American producer and director Moustapha Al-Akkad was also made.
During the days of CIFF, actress Hanan Turk and singer Mohamed Mounir received special certificates for their roles in Dunia or Kiss Me not on the Eye, a French co-production directed by the Lebanese Joceylin Saab that depicts 23-year-old Dunia, who, challenging the tradition whereby a woman's body remains taboo by expressing herself physically through dance, is circumcised in retribution. Predictably, though screened only once to an audience of critics and filmmakers, the film has already generated controversy -- not to mention fierce divisions among that audience.
Egypt's only entry in the CIFF official competition, Mohamed Amin's Laylat Suqout Baghdad (The Night Baghdad Fell), received neither awards nor certificates of recognition, and had a less than enthusiastic reception.