CAIRO: The 34th Cairo International Film Festival (CIFF) will kick off on Nov. 30 with the theme “Egypt in the Eyes of the World’s Cinemas,” CIFF President Ezzat Abou Ouf said Thursday.
Nineteen films from countries like England, Spain, Mexico, Italy and the United States that were set in Egypt or tell the stories of Egyptian characters will be screened at the festival.
A major problem the CIFF is facing this year is the timing right after Eid Al-Adha, which is a high season of Egyptian films that will flood the movie theaters, especially since leading stars such as Ahmed Helmy and Ahmed El Saqqa are releasing movies.
Furthermore, the festival will open two days after the People’s Assembly elections and during the week of the re-runs. Abou Ouf explained that they are confined with the timing after the Eid and before the Christmas holidays.
However, Abou Ouf has met with the governor of Cairo, Abdel Azim Wazir, in order to discuss issues such as traffic and the capital’s cleanliness.
Abou Ouf also addressed the issue of normalization and screening Israeli films at the CIFF. “Israel and anyone related whatsoever with Israel will never come near the Cairo International Film Festival during my lifetime, even if I’m not the [CIFF] president,” he said.
Abou Ouf denied previous claims that Minister of Culture Farouk Hosni had announced that Egypt is the guest of honor for the CIFF this year. “We have cancelled the concept of a country being a guest of honor, instead we have introduced a new concept of spotlighting on a certain cinema,” he said.
Under the slogan “Spotlights on New Turkish Cinema,” the CIFF will screen 12 of the best films from the Turkish cinema that were produced in 2009 and 2010.
Director Khaled El Haggar’s “Desire” is the only Egyptian film participating in the international competition.
On the other hand, there are three Egypt movies participating in the Arab Feature Film competition, including “Desire,” Tamer Ezzat’s “Ring Road” and Ahmed Abdallah’s “Microphone.”
Overall, there are 230 entries in this year’s CIFF.
The festival will honor leading Egyptian actresses Laila Elwy and Safeya El-Emary, as well as director Ramsis Marzouq. It will also pay tribute to late actress Amina Rizk and late actor Mahmoud El-Melegy as this year marks their 100th birthday.
The opening film is yet to be selected, however Abou Ouf said it is down to either the Italian movie “The Father of the Foreigner,” which stars Egyptian actor Amr Waked, or the Argentinean movie “The Hostage of Illusions.”
This year, the festival’s website will be constantly updated with all relevant information, as well as news, photos and videos of events as they take place, available in six different languages, Abou Ouf said. There will also be a YouTube channel on which all the events and conferences will be posted within minutes after they take place.
The budget for the festival increased this year due to the introduction of more sponsors, Abou Ouf said, explaining that the sponsors do not contribute with cash but rather carry the expenses, such as Make Up Forever holding the after-party at Mohamed Ali Palace.
Abou Ouf refused to give names of Hollywood stars attending the festival. “I don’t like to give the names of the Hollywood stars until they board the plane heading to Egypt. I don’t make any announcements unless it’s guaranteed,” he said.