El-Gouna Film Festival closed the curtains of its first edition Friday night announcing the awards of the participating films. With the attendance of hundreds of local and international superstars and filmmakers, the festival closing witnessed honouring films that feature humanity and that portrays the beauty of human nature.
Out of 48 films participating from 36 countries, and under the slogan of cinema foe humanity, the juries announced their finest three selections in each of the three categories: feature narrative competition, short films competition, and documentary competition.
The Best Arab Feature Narrative went to Egyptian film “Photocopy” for young director Tamer El-Ashry. In his first experience in directing long films, for a story written by Haitham Dabour, EL-Ashry captures the life of an elder man, Mahmoud Hemida, who owns a small printing shop. His life changes when he works on printing a book that talks of dinosaurs and he starts looking further into their extinction before he finds his life similar to theirs and believe he’s about to become extinct as well.
The film co-stars beautiful Sherine Reda, who plays the role of an elder women who steals his heart.
Georgian film “Scary Mother” won El-Gouna Golden Star. The drama is written and directed by young director Ana Urushadze and starring Georgian stars Nato Murvanidze and Dimitri Tatishvili.
The film displays a mother in her mid-forties, Manana, who is obsessed with writing novels despite not publishing any of them. In her latest projects, Manana writes a story that features her own family, whom she portrays as the biggest and worst obstacles in her life. While she reads the novel, both the audience and her family discover the truth beyond the loving, caring mother. A psychopath who cheated on her husband and never got over her mother’s suicide. With the support of a friend, Manana follows her obsession to abandon her family in order to keep writing.
As for EL-Gouna Silver Star, it went to French-Lebanese film “The Insult” for outstanding director Ziad Doueiri.
The Film tackles the issue of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. It all starts with a small misunderstanding taking place between Tony, who is played by Adel Karam, and Yasser, played by Kamel EL-Basha, when the second tries to repair a drainpipe for the first. However, it ends with an argument that led Tony the Christian Lebanese citizen to file a case against the Muslim Palestinian refugee.
Only a matter of time before it turns into a national case between supporters and opponents of the Palestinian community in Lebanon.
The film was also selected to compete at the Best Foreign Language Film at the 90th Academy Awards.
El-Gouna Bronze star went to Russian film “Arrhythmia” for director Boris Khlebnikov. The film tells the story of Oleg, Aleksandr Yatsenko, a young gifted paramedic who is torn between his wife who seeks divorce and strict manager who sets rules that are hard to stick to in work. Between his struggles and alcohol heavy drinking, Oleg seeks to find the meaning of life and the purpose of his existence.
Daniel Gimenez Cacho was awarded the Best Actor prize for his role in Argentian film “Zama”. In the film Cacho played the role of an officer at the World War II era, who seeks to take a vacation to visit his family. However, in order to do so, he has to seek the satisfactions of higher authorities through a set of actions he unwillingly does.
The best actress award went to Morrocan star Nadia Kunda, for her role at the film “Volubilis” where she playes the role of a young maid who is married to a mall guard and seek to fight poverty and the dominance of upper class over their lives.
The Jury of the Feature Documentary Competition, headed by actress Nelly Karim announced that the best Arabic Feature Documentary is “I Have a Picture,” for director Mohamed Zedan
“I am Not Your Negro” won El-Gouna Golden Star. As for “Brimstone and Glory”, it was awarded El-Gouna Silver star. Mrs Fang won El-Gouna Bronze Star Award while I Have A Picture won El Gouna Golden Star Award For the best Arabic Feature Documentary (the prize includes the trophy, a certificate and $ 10,000), Soufra won the Mentor Arabia Award (the prize includes $ 10,000).
As for “Sofra” by director Thomas Morgan, it won both Mentor Arabia Award and The Cinema For Humanity Prize . “Sofra” follows the unlikely and wildly inspirational story of intrepid social entrepreneur, Mariam Shaar, a generational refugee who has spent her entire life in the 65-year-old Burj El Barajneh refugee camp just south of Beirut, Lebanon.
The Jury of the Short Films announced that their selection for the best short film went to “Punchline”.
“Nightshade” won El-Gouna Golden Star Award. As for “Merry-Go-round”, it won El-Gouna Silver Star Award, and “Mama Bobo” won El-Gouna Bronze Star Award. While Baghdad Photographer won the Film Factory Award (which includes $ 5,000).
The closing ceremony also endorsed honouring prominent celebrities including Forest Whitacker
who was awarded with the Career Achievement Award for enriching cinema with his films for decades. The award was previously given to iconic star Adel Imam and Lebanese critic Ibrahim El-Aris at the festival’s opening ceremony.
In his speech Whitacker asserted that the slogan of the festival, cinema for humanity, is one of the reasons he enrolled himself in the field of cinema in the first place.