Migration, Equality & Homeland: Goethe Film Week in Cairo Puts Spotlight on Hot-Button Issues
There are few mediums that can engage, connect and incite like film can – and so while the Goethe-Institut Cairo has dabbled in all of the arts throughout the years, it’s the upcoming edition of its annual Goethe Film Week that stands as a highlight among the various activities and events its involved in this month.
Starting on Tuesday 2nd May, this will be the fifth edition of the Goethe Film Week, with the aim still very much the same: to expose Egyptian audiences to high quality cinema. But more than just a string of screenings, the week ties in organically to Goethe-Institut’s other efforts in the field locally.
“We also want to support Arab films and filmmakers, be it as alumni of projects of the Goethe-Institut or as young filmmakers whose films entered German film festivals or who worked together with German partners in the production process,” says Johanna Keller, MENA Regional Director of Cultural Programs at Goethe-Institut.
It’s been a fruitful, almost holistic, approach that has paid dividends since the film week first launched, with Keller certain that it can and will grow bigger.
“In the last 3 years we have been widening our scope through parallel programs like concerts, workshops with film students and discussions,” she told us, continuing, “We are very happy to see that the audience appreciates this development. We had a huge rise in audience numbers.”
Last year’s Goethe Film Week at the old premises in Downtown Cairo (Photo: Goethe-Institut/Nadia Mounir)
This increasingly positive reception can also be attributed to Egypt’s growing appreciation of the arts and the post-revolution increase in independent artistic movements that have taken on the thorny task of addressing the hot-topic buttons in Egypt and the world – something that this year’s Film Week is following suit by addressing issues including, migration, women’s equality and the definition of homeland.
“The Goethe Film Week, just as the filmmakers themselves, always reacts to current phenomena of the public debate,” Keller added. “Migration and gender equality are important topics where films can be a starting point for a discussion.”
Many of the screenings are followed by the chance to participate in an open discussion with filmmakers, experts and guests – a space where attendees can openly share their opinions.
Germany has, of course, a long and storied history in cinema – one that stretches back to the Golden Age of the 1920s, when the German film industry was at its peak in its artistic and technical contributions to cinema.
“There is a very particular language in German film,” Keller explains. “German films have the reputation of not being very ‘easy’ since they often deal with serious topics. But you can almost be sure that there will be something to discuss: they make you think, they talk about things the audience can relate to, they offer new perspectives on widespread topics. This is what makes them relevant.”
But as she also points out, there has been a marked resurgence in the German film industry as a whole, as well as an increased creative variety that has been gaining more and more traction worldwide since the early nineties and through to the turn of the century.
“Since 2000 we have seen a general resurgence of the German film industry, with a higher output and improved returns at the German box office,” Keller states. “Directors such as Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Werner Herzog, Volker Schlöndorff, Wim Wenders and Maren Ade have regained international recognition of German Cinema.”
The screenings will take place at Goethe-Institut’s new building in Dokki, while selected films will tour in Alexandria, El Minia, Aswan, Damanhour and Ismailia.
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