Since its launch in 1976, Cairo International Film Festival (CIFF) has made a name for itself across the globe as the region’s premier platform for films. Following a series of setbacks in 2011 and 2013 due the Egyptian revolution, today, the film festival is back and better than ever.
Having just closed its 40th edition, CIFF has had its biggest year yet. “What pleased me the most [was] that all the movies tickets were sold out, that didn’t occur before in any previous edition” announced Egyptian producer Mohammed Hefzy—who just took over as the festival’s president—during his closing speech.
Out of the festival’s 160 screened movies, MILLE rounds up five to keep an eye on.
A Twelve-Year Night
Directed by Álvaro Brecher, the Uruguayan film has been making headlines since its release in early 2018, and to close out the year, the film scored yet another award, winning the film festival’s Golden Pyramid for Best Film. Set in 1973 in Uruguay, the drama follows the story of three Tupamaro men, imprisoned under a government ran by military dictatorship under the order of: “As we can’t kill them, let’s drive them mad”.
Phuttiphomg Aroonpheng’s Manta Ray has already been at the receiving hand of numerous international awards, and now it can add yet another to its roster, having won a Silver Pyramid for Best Director at CIFF. The Thai drama puts the focus on Rohingya refugees, particularly one man found injured on the shores of a coastal village in Thailand.
As the winner of the Bronze Pyramid prize for Best First or Second Work of a Director, the British film Obey won the hearts of the panel. Directed by Jamie Jones, the film is set in East London during a time of social unrest and follows the life of a young man whose life is torn further by a girl he’s in love with.
Set in a poor Cairo neighbourhood, Ahmed Fawzy Saleh’s Poisonous Roses snagged the festival’s Best Arab Film Award. The Egyptian drama puts the spotlight on the impoverished lives of those living in the neighbourhood, but in particular, the life of a young man named Taheya, who’s ultimate goal is to convince his brother not to escape their dire situation.
After winning Best Film at Carthage Film Festival, Mahmoud Ben Mahmoud’s Fatwa just scored another win in Cairo with the Saad Eldin Wahba Prize for Best Arab Film. The Tunisian film tackles radicalization in Tunisia, telling the story of a father, who upon returning to his native Tunisia from France, learns that a radical Islamist group had declared a fatwa on his wife, and that his son had quit university to join them.