Thursday,21 February, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1383, (1 - 7 March 2018)
Thursday,21 February, 2019
Issue 1383, (1 - 7 March 2018)

Ahram Weekly

Sharm to Luxor

Hani Mustafa looks forward to next month’s impressive lineup of film events


Sharm El-Sheikh Film Festival

This month cinephiles can look forward to two of the most important film events in Egypt: first, the Sharm El-Sheikh Arab and European Film Festival (3-9 March), and then the Luxor African Film Festival (16-22 March).

Somewhat confusingly, the first four rounds of the Sharm El-Sheikh Festival were actually held in Luxor, moving to Sharm El-Sheikh only last year. The Noon Cultural Foundation, which founded and organises the festival, has achieved a remarkable level of success in the past, and this year is no exception. With journalists Gamal Zaida and Osama Abdel-Fattah at the helm as president and director, respectively, 68 (21 full-length) films from 28 countries are being screened in four sections: long feature competition (11), short feature competition (18), panorama (10) and Higher Cinema Institute student films (16). Actress Laila Elwi, honorary president, has announced that this year’s round is dedicated to the name of film critic Ali Abu Shadi, who passed away less than two weeks ago.

The Sharm El-Sheikh Festival is honouring the American filmmaker Isabella Vincent Chan, whose last documentary, The Big Flip: Stories from the Modern Home Front (2016), will be shown. It will also honour Egyptians: 1960s film star Laila Taher, filmmaker Ali Badrakhan — who made the 1975 Al-Karnak based on the eponymous Naguib Mahfouz novel and the 1978 Shafiqa and Metwalli, based on the folk ballad — and the prolific comedian Hassan Hosni.

Seminar topics include Youssef Chahine’s 10th death anniversary, marked by screenings of three of his films: The Destiny (1997), The Emigrant (1994) and Adieu Bonaparte (1985). They also include a large-scale event in collaboration with the National Women’s Council on International Women’s Day (8 March), in which numerous Egyptian and foreign film figures are participating; screenings include Hikayat Sanaa (Sanaa’s Story), about the struggle of the great actress Sanaa Gamil, and Tarf Al-Kheit (Catching the Thread), about women’s achievements in microeconomics and development. Photographer Kamal Abdel-Aziz is also giving a workshop on digital filmmaking.

Despite its brief the Sharm El-Sheikh Festival in its second (in effect, sixth) round is celebrating American independent cinema, with Craig Gillespie’s I, Tonya (for which Allison Janney won Golden Globe for best supporting actress and which was nominated for three Oscars) opening the festival.

Luxor African Film Festival


In its seventh round the Luxor African Film Festival maintains its mission of connecting Egyptian filmmakers and their counterparts throughout Africa. An initiative of the Independent Young Artists Foundation, despite very limited resources, the festival — headed by screenwriter Sayed Fouad and filmmaker Azza Al-Husseini as president and director, respectively — has proven rich and exciting every year since 2012, when it was first held, and so has gained a reputation across the continent.

The festival brings together many of 2017’s best African productions in various competition sections: long fiction (10 films), long documentary (seven films) and short (20 films) as well as the International Freedoms Competition (four fiction, five documentary and five short films) and the Egyptian student film competition (13 films). Outside the competition, the festival is screening four films in the Africa in the Festivals programme and six in a documentary programme.

This year’s honorary president is screenwriter Medhat Al-Adl. Honoured are Egyptian film star Ghada Adel, Senegalese director Moussa Touré and veteran Egyptian actor Gamil Rateb. On the occasion the late Mohamed Khan’s 2007 The Heliopolis Flat starring Adel, Touré’s 2012 La Pirogue and the late Salah Abu Seif’s The Beginning starring Rateb are being screened.

The annual workshop, a large-scale and truly continent-wide staple of the festival, is this year given by filmmaker Khairi Bishara. Workshops for Egyptians include direction by filmmaker Khaled Al-Hagar, drawing on water by artist Mohamed Abla, mobile phone filmmaking by director Sherine Atef, ancient Egyptian murals by artist Said Al-Bagouri, actor preparation by actor-director Gamal Thabet, cinema for children by Shewikar Khalifa and animation for children by Awatef Salah and Nevine Farghali.

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