5 Major Highlights from Cairo Film Festival

Inside Egypt’s most prominent film event

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After having been postponed, Cairo International Film Festival (CIFF) finally held its 42nd edition this month, with a programme that spanned 84 film screenings from 43 countries in none other than the iconic Cairo Opera House. 

The highly-anticipated festival finally took place from December 2 to 10, kicking off with a star-studded opening ceremony. Alongside commemorating some of the best cinematic achievements, CIFF also held live panels and masterclasses with legendary film figures such as British screenwriter Sir Christopher Hampton, co-writer of the festival’s opening film, The Father

From major awards to restored films screening, we’ve rounded up the event’s major highlights.

Mona Zakki received recognition for her outstanding career

The Egyptian actress—who starred in Taymour wa Shafika and Abu Ali—was granted the Faten Hamama Award of Excellence, which celebrates iconic film figures for their contribution to enrich the cinematographic art. “Mona Zaki is the quintessential star of her generation. Through her work she has become a role model setting a great example of success for women working in Egyptian cinema,” stated the Festival’s president, Mohamed Hefzy.

Limbo won the Golden Pyramid for Best Film Award

Starring Egyptian actor Amir El-Masry, UK drama Limbo was awarded three top prizes at CIFF, including the prestigious Golden Pyramid for Best Film. Directed by Ben Sharrock, the film follows four asylum seekers who are taking cultural awareness classes on a remote Scottish island while awaiting the processing of their refugee claims.

100 Years of Fellini

Federico FelliniCelebrating the centenary of Federico Fellini, the festival paid tribute to the legendary Italian director with the screening of restored versions for some of his biggest films such as La Dolce Vita, and Nights of Cabiria; and a Anselma Dell’Olio-directed documentary about Fellini’s hidden world.

Egyptian film won big

Lift Like A Girl, a six-years-in-the-making documentary by Egyptian filmmaker Mayye Zayed, received the Bronze Pyramid Award for best first or second work of a director. The film, which follows the Olympic ambitions of a teenage female weightlifter, also won the Youssef Cherif Rizkallah Audience Award, which includes a prize of 15,000 dollars.

16 film premiered from 11 countries

Amongst which are seven brilliant Arab films like Saudi Arabia’s The Girls Who Burned the Night and Lebanon’s TV Society.

Other winners include:

Official Competition Awards:

The Golden Pyramid Award for Best Film: Limbo (UK) by Ben Sharrock

The Silver Pyramid, Special Jury Award for Best Director: Conference (Russia, Estonia, UK, Italy) by Ivan I. Tverdovskiy

The Bronze Pyramid Award for Best First or Second Work: Lift Like a Girl (Egypt) by Mayye Zayed

Naguib Mahfouz Award for Best Screenplay: 50 or Two Whales Meet on the Beach (Mexico) written and directed by Jorge Cuchi

Best Actor Award: Julian Vergov for his role in German Lessons (Bulgaria) by Pavel G. Vesnakov

Best Actress Award: awarded to two actresses: Elham Shahine in Curfew (Egypt) by Amir Ramses and Natalya Pavlenkova in Conference (Russia, Estonia, UK, Italy) by Ivan I. Tverdovskiy

Henry Barakat Award for Best Artistic Contribution: Limbo (UK) by Ben Sharrock

Special mention: Gaza Mon Amour (Palestine, Germany, France, Portugal) by Tarzan and Arab Nasser

The Horizons of New Arab Cinema Competition Awards:

Saad Eldin Wahba Award for Best Arabic Film: Roy Arida for his film Under The Concrete (France, Lebanon)

Salah Abu Seif Award for Best Artistic Contribution: The Tambour of Retribution (KSA) by Abdulaziz Al Shelahi

Best Non-Fiction Film Award: We Are from There (Lebanon, France) by Wissam Tanios

Best Acting Performance Award: Faisal Al-Dokhi for his role in The Tambour of Retribution (KSA) by Abdulaziz Al Shelahi

Special Mention: The Fall of Apple Trees (Morocco) by Mohamed Moftakar

International Critics’ Week Competition Awards:

Shadi Abdel Salam Award for Best Film: The Best Is Yet to Come (China) by Jing Wang

Fathy Farag Award for Best Artistic Contribution: Gold (Netherlands) by Roger Hesp

The Cinema of Tomorrow International Competition Awards:

Youssef Chahine Award for Best Short Film: Isabel (Cuba) by Egyptian director Sara Shazly

The Special Jury Award: The Game (Switzerland) by Roman Hodel

Special mention: The Girls Who Burned The Night (KSA) by Sara Mesfer

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