Although attention may be diverted towards the upcoming Venice Film Festival, there is a film festival that’s equally as exciting happening on Egypt’s Red Sea. With lagoons, coral reefs and sandy beaches, El Gouna is the perfect spot to relax, kick back and indulge in some of the world’s best new emerging films.
Facilitated by the CineGouna Platform, regional filmmakers are financially supported in order for the festival to achieve the perfect balance of both regional and non-regional films, something that’s not so common at other mainstream film festivals in the Arab world.
As stated on their official website, “The mission of GFF is to showcase a wide variety of films for a passionate and knowledgeable audience while fostering better communication between cultures through the art of filmmaking. Its goal is to connect filmmakers from the region with their international counterparts in the spirit of cooperation and cultural exchange.”
This year the festival is set to be bigger than ever, with over 80 films included. Competition will be tough for those in the running for the Feature Narrative Competition, the Feature Documentary Competition and the Short Film Competition (and there will also be an Official Selection and Special Presentation selection).
The jury of the Feature Narrative Competition will include Egyptian film star Sawsan Badr, whilst young powerhouse Egyptian filmmaker Marwan Hamed will head the Short Film Competition jury, alongside Tunisian actress Dorra Zarrouk.
The festival will not just include screenings, but roundtable discussions by industry professionals, workshops and masterclasses, as well as guest lectures from the creative and financial sides of film production. There will also be an exhibition dedicated to the centennial birth of acclaimed Egyptian novelist and journalist Ihsan Abdel-Quddous, displaying his works, handwritten notes and rare photographs.
This year’s GFF Career Achievement Award will go to one of the region’s most influential comedic actors, Mohamed Henedi, as El-Gouna wants to highlight how festivals are usually hesitant to spotlight Arab comedians (despite it being the genre with the biggest box-office sales). Meanwhile acclaimed female Palestinian director Mai Masri will receive the Creative Achievement Award for her contribution to Arabic-language feature films, like 3000 Layla (2015) and documentaries like Children of Shatila (1998) and Frontiers of Dreams and Fears (2001).
El Gouna Film Festival, 19 Sept – 27 Sept, El Gouna, Egypt