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Busy screens – Culture – Al-Ahram Weekly

According to the new president of the Cairo International Film Festival (CIFF), film star Hussein Fahmy, over the past few years the festival has cemented its position as one of the most distinguished platforms in the film industry in the world. region. “The question I started with is where should we go from this point, what should be the next step,” he said.

Cinema as a cultural bridge in times of war, the preservation of Egyptian cinematic heritage through a long-term film restoration project and environmental protection are the three main focuses of the 44th CIFF (November 13-22) . In this context, three newly restored Egyptian films will be part of this year’s program, and one of this year’s panels is titled “Green Filming: How Film Productions Can Be More Environmentally Friendly At Home”. screen and behind the camera?

For his part, Amir Ramses, the new artistic director, said his appointment felt like a huge responsibility: “A long time ago, as a young cinephile, this festival introduced me to world cinema, and later, as a filmmaker, two of my films were screened in his program. Perhaps my appointment to a position led by great critics and filmmakers, along with my mentor, the late curator Youssef Sharif Rizkallah, is a way of giving back and honoring an institution that made me the filmmaker who I am today. “According to Ramses, this year’s film screening program is full of important international and Arab films, including world premieres, and films that have been recognized at global film festivals. “Our ambition is to approach the diverse audience of the festival, and for the festival to be a platform that celebrates different films without being closed to one aspect of cinema.”

This year, the Golden Pyramid Award for Lifetime Achievement goes to renowned Hungarian director, producer and screenwriter Béla Tarr and renowned Egyptian actress, singer and entertainer Lebleba. The Faten Hamama Excellence Prize is awarded to the eminent Egyptian director Kamla Abu Zekry.

Béla Tarr will also give a masterclass hosted by Egyptian director Ahmed Abdalla, which will follow the screening of Werckmeister Harmonies (2000) by Tarr. Tarr will discuss his methodology and filmmaking choices. Tarr’s melancholic approach in most of his films is underscored by slow-moving black-and-white scenes. His realistic approach is achieved by having his films shot mostly by non-professional actors, which adds to the philosophical perspective that marks his exceptional repertoire.

The acclaimed Hungarian filmmaker will also lead a filmmaking workshop, which is a nine-day exploration into the language of cinema. The workshop is aimed at young filmmakers looking to deepen their directing skills. Béla Tarr will propose a theme from which the participating filmmakers will have to adapt and develop a scene. From then on, he will individually mentor each filmmaker as they work to shoot their short one-page scene.

With its celebration of world cinema through a program full of premieres and critically acclaimed international dishes, this year’s festival also presents new Egyptian films in all competitions and sections.

Egyptian films include B 19, a world premiere by Ahmad Abdallah. The film tells the story of an old park keeper who lives in a dilapidated villa, watching over an abandoned house he considers his home, which is suddenly invaded by a young park keeper, forcing him to face his fears.

Another Egyptian world premiere, Far From the Nile by Sherief Elkatsha, will open the Horizons of Arab Cinema competition. The film is about 12 musicians from 11 countries bordering the Nile using music as a model to collaborate across borders. During a tour of the United States, their message of unity is put to the test.

This is in addition to the international premiere of Christian Suhr’s Light Upon Light which will be screened as part of the International Critics’ Week competition. The film is a philosophical excursion from Cairo, along the Nile and into the desert in search of what light means as a religious concept.

Among the Egyptian films in the short film competition, From the Work of the Devil by Dessil Mekhtigian, where after 10 years a young woman returns to Cairo to organize an exhibition on the pioneers of Armenian photography who archived Egypt through time. During the preparations, the environment makes him understand the reason for his return; Hind Metwalli’s The Interview, where a young woman must choose between caring for her suicidalally depressed mother and attending a job interview that could change her life and allow her to provide for her family; Naji Ismail’s Mama, about a 21-year-old girl who hides a terrifying secret to protect herself and her brother. Additionally, there is also the MENA premiere of My Girlfriend by Kawthar Younis, which had its world premiere at the Venice International Film Festival. It’s about Ali, desperate for intimacy, following the suggestion of his girlfriend who puts their relationship to the test. The plan unfolds unexpectedly when gender roles become blurred.

Cairo Classics, a new section for Egyptian and international films, was introduced this year. It includes three restored Egyptian classics: Youssef Chahine’s The Choice (1970), which tells how when an Alexandria waterfront worker is found murdered, his well-connected writer twin brother becomes the prime suspect; Diary of a Campaign Assistant (1969) by Tawfik Saleh, which is about Qamar who dies after being shot, and the last word he speaks is the name of his sister-in-law Reem, the only witness. After her arrest, her beauty attracts the prosecutor’s attention, and she manages to escape from the guard’s house; and Ali Abdel Khaleq’s A Song On The Passage (1972), set during the 1967 war when communications were cut between a group of soldiers on a desert passage and the command center. They try to survive despite enemy attacks and lack of supplies.


*A version of this article appeared in the October 20, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.

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