The Definitive Guide to Living in the Capital , Cairo , Egypt

Arts & Culture -

Meet the Winners from this Year’s Gouna Film Festival

Awards cinema El Gouna El Gouna Film Festival winners
Meet the Winners from this Year’s Gouna Film Festival
written by
Malak Gharib
Image via Sada El Balad

As the curtains fall on the 6th edition of GFF, they leave behind a range of cinematic masterpieces. Handing out over nine awards to distinguished filmmakers and unforgettable artistic gems, this edition stands as a testament to uniqueness. Having taken place from December 14th to 21st, 2023, the festival also showcased a dedicated program to spotlight Palestinian cinema. Join us for a quick recap of the award winners from GFF’s sixth edition.


The NETPAC Award – From Abdul to Leila

Awarded to the finest Asian film, the NETPAC Award reflects the region’s cinematic diversity and depth. The jury, featuring Indian critic Shubhra Gupta, Norwegian producer Ingrid Lill Høgtun, and anthropologist Dr. Malaak Swed, highlighted outstanding achievements. The esteemed award went to From Abdul to Leila, directed by Iraqi-born filmmaker Leila Al Bayaty, now based in France. The film digs into Leila’s reunion in the south of France, confronting her father Abdul with his past amid the Iraq war, and her decision to learn Arabic to immortalise his poems through song.


The FIPRESCI (International Federation of Film Critics) Award – Hollywoodgate

Featuring a distinguished jury comprising Polish critic Ola Salwa, South African critic Stephen Aspeling, and Egyptian journalist Zein Alabedin Khairy, the GFF 2023 celebrated remarkable debut films from Africa, Asia, and South America. The coveted FIPRESCI Prize was awarded to Hollywoodgate, directed by Ibrahim Nash’at, a Germany-based Egyptian filmmaker. The film had a gripping narrative of Taliban forces occupying the Hollywood Gate complex, believed to be a former CIA base in Kabul — creating an impactful exploration of historical events.


The El Gouna Star for Best Arab Short – Les Chenilles

El Gouna Star for the Best Arab Short Movie was awarded to Les Chenilles, directed by Michelle & Noel Keserwany from Lebanon and based in France. The movie takes us on a journey with Asma and Sarah, Levantine women now in Lyon, who share a workplace and are burdened by the homes they left behind. Initially cautious, they uncover a shared heritage linked to Lyon’s historical Silk Road connection to their homelands. Amid forced migrations, can they transcend initial distrust to discover solace in their shared journey?


The El Gouna Green Star Award – The Buriti Flower

El Gouna Green Star Award is open for all feature-long movies, for GFF#2023, the award was won by The Buriti Flower, directed by João Salaviza & Renée Nader Messora from Brazil. Taking us on a journey through time, Patpro recounts a history of land struggle from the 1940s, where the Krahô persistently innovates in forms of resistance guided by ancestral rites and is steadfast in preserving Indigenous tribes’ freedom.


El Gouna Star for Best Arab Documentary Film – Matchat

The award was granted to Matchat. Taking place in Tunisia, Fatma and her daughters, Najeh and Waffeh, work as Machtat, traditional musicians who play at wedding ceremonies. Their music evokes love and its promises, but the reality is much more complex and painful.


The Cinema for Humanity Audience Award – Goodbye Julia

In a celebration of cinema with a profound social impact, GFF launched their prestigious Cinema for Humanity Award at GFF#2023 with Goodbye Julia (Wada’n Julia). Directed by Mohamed Kordofani from Sudan, the film resonated with the audience for its poignant exploration of humanitarian themes. This recognition emphasised the festival’s commitment to honoring cinematic narratives that go beyond entertainment, fostering dialogue and understanding through the lens of exceptional filmmaking. Goodbye Julia stands as a testament to the power of storytelling in addressing pressing global issues and capturing hearts and minds.


El Gouna Star for Best Actor – If Only I Could Hibernate


Bottsooj Uortaikh secured the El Gouna Star for Best Actor for his role in If Only I Could Hibernate, directed by Zoljargal Purevdash from Mongolia. A Cannes-selected gem, the film follows the resilient Ulzii (Uortaikh), a proud, impoverished teen determined to triumph in a Physics competition for a life-changing scholarship.


El Gouna Star for Best Actress – Parwin Rajabi

Parwin Rajabi fetched the El Gouna Star for Best Actress for her poignant role in Transient Happiness, directed by Sina Muhammed from Iraq. The film, also awarded El Gouna Star for Best Arab Narrative Film, unravels the story of a woman who finds unexpected attention from her husband when she falls ill.


The El Gouna Gold Star for Best Narrative Film – In Our Day

Honouring movies with an outstanding plot, In Our Day, directed by Hong Sangsoo from South Korea, won the El Gouna Gold Star for Best Narrative Film. In his 30th cinematic endeavor, Sangsoo intricately weaves two parallel dialogues — one between an actress and an amateur, and the other between an old poet and a fan — with his trademark finesse in mastery of storytelling.