Featured image via Elbalad.com
Egypt boasts a number of fine beach resorts, and a number of excellent movies as well, maintaining its reputation as the Hollywood of the Arab World, but when the top classes of both things combine, we’re in for quite a show. We’re talking about the second edition of El Gouna Film Festival (GFF), setting the stage for around 80 films to tell their stories in front of an audience of reputable filmmakers and passionate film enthusiasts.
Last year’s Festival was a huge success, garnering international attention, and boosting the reputation of Egypt’s tourism even further by being held at one of Egypt’s most prime beach resorts, El Gouna. This time around, they want to raise the stakes even higher. This is why the Festival has more than doubled their CineGouna Platform awards budget (from $60,000 to $150,000).
After receiving 135 submissions, the GFF is now featuring 15 films in the Feature Narrative Competition, 12 films in the Feature Documentary Competition, and 23 films in the Short Film Competition. As for the CineGouna Platform, it now has double the entries with 12 titles in development and 6 in post-production. GFF also upped its partnership game with Asia Pacific Screen Awards, UniFrance, and main TV Sponsors, CBC, joining Variety and Festival Scope from last year.
This year, GFF is set to pay tribute to Egyptian director Daoud Abdel Sayed and Tunisian producer Dora Bouchoucha, as they’re receiving the GFF Career Achievement Award. The festival will also pay tribute to Youssef Chahine, Federico Fellini, and Ingmar Bergman.
Sawiris brothers, Naguib, the founder of the Festival, and Samih, founder of El Gouna, carried the Festival’s first edition on their shoulders, but this time around, they’ve managed to attract the right sponsors to support the Festival. In a recent press conference, the Sawiris brothers announced the program details of the Festival’s second edition, set to take place this September from the 20th to the 28th. Film count hit 80 titles, 10 more films than the first edition, with 25 films out of competition. Most films will be subtitled for foreign attendees, and most screenings will be followed by discussions with the filmmakers and cast to add more engagement to the festival.
Every film festival needs a jury, and this year’s jury at GFF includes Arab actor Ali Suliman, Egyptian actress Mona Zaki, Moroccan director Ahmed El Maanouni, Berlinale director Carlo Chatrian, Croatian producer Cedomir Kolar, Palestinian director Rashid Masharawi, film programmer Ally Derks, Indian three-time Green Oscar winning filmmaker Mike Pandey, Jordanian actress Saba Mubarak, and Palestinian actor Kamel El Basha, who won the Best Actor Award at the 2017 Venice Film Festival.
Looking to fix up certain areas of improvement, Samih Sawiris announced that “three screening halls were renovated, refurbished, and equipped with state-of-the-art projection and sound systems for the festival.” This Festival is set to boost the reputation of the Egyptian film industry as well as its tourism, Samih Sawiris hopes this will resonate with other people, and that their experience “inspires other cities in Egypt to develop cultural infrastructure by embracing film festivals and other artistic events.”