Posts Tagged ‘Cairo Film Festival’

Cairo International Film Festival 2023 | Cancelled

Cairo International Film Festival – the oldest and most prestigious feature film festival in the Middle East – will be celebrating its 45th edition this year from 15 until 24 November with Bosnian director Danis Tanović as head of the Official competition jury, appointed by Amir Ramsis, Director of the Festival.

The well-known international writer and director has been selected in a bid to draw prominent figures from the global film industry to take part in the festival, with the aim of showcasing and sharing experiences among emerging Egyptian, Arab, and international filmmakers participating in the event.

Born in 1969, Bosnian director and screenwriter Tanović is one of the most prominent directors and screenwriters in Eastern Europe and worldwide.
His most important works include Death in Sarajevo which won the FIPRESCI award at Berlinale in 2016, No Man’s Land which garnered an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and Best Screenplay at Cannes in 2001, and An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker which won the Silver Bear – Grand Jury Prize, and a Silver Bear for Best Actor at the Berlinale in 2013. Tanović is the only director from Bosnia and Herzegovina to win an Academy Award.

Cairo International Film Festival is pleased to announce the MENA premiere of Back to Alexandria (main image) by Tamer Ruggli among its 45th edition official competition section. The Swiss-born director is a true international figure who has lived in Zaire, Saudi Arabia and Austria. This, his first feature, a story of female empowerment, stars the legendary French actress Fanny Ardant and the multitalented actress, director Nadine Labaki who plays a woman who must return to her native Egypt to visit her estranged mother (Ardant), an eccentric aristocrat. The eventful journey, leading her from Cairo back to Alexandria, is suffused with memories, nostalgia, and mixed feelings about her past which will inform and shape her exciting future.

CAIRO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL | 15 – 24 NOVEMBER 2023 was CANCELLED due to the Middle East Crisis 

Houria (2022)

Dir: Mounia Meddour | Cast: Lyna Khoudri, Rachida Brakni, Nadia Kaci, Amira Hilda Douaouda | Drama, 104′

A talented dancer is forced to re-think her life in this vibrant second feature from Mounia Meddour who continues to explore the Algerian sisterhood and their creative struggle against male oppression.

Houria (Lyna Khoudri) always dreamed of being a ballet dancer. Her friends are all in the same predicament, striving to make a success of their lives. As a trained PE teacher, Houria throws herself into often painful practice sessions, coached by her mother Sabrina (Brakni), in the hope of being accepted into a professional troupe. But she is just one of several women in this passionate and sensuously crafted drama who are desperate for personal and professional fulfilment yet thwarted by Algeria’s male-dominated set-up and blighted by tragedy.

Her best friend Sonia (Amira Hilda Douaouda), also a gym teacher, has organised an illegal boat passage to Spain. Having saved the money to buy a car by betting on ram baiting fights – in scenes that are grossly overplayed and distressing but aim to convey a testosterone fuelled male environment – Houria is then attacked by a convicted criminal who remains at large, due to sloppy policing, and left with a broken ankle and post-traumatic mutism, her hopes of a dancing career dashed. Once again the sisterhood comes to the rescue, and these scenes are evocatively played by the film’s talented cast, and beautifully captured in Leo Lefevre’s spectacular close-up camerawork that focuses on faces and body language. During her rehabilitation Houria volunteers on a rehabilitation project with aurally and vocally challenged women and together they find common ground and a way forward.

Houria – a name meaning ‘freedom in Arabic – often feels like a series of spirited episodes in the lives of these unfortunate women who have triumphed against adversity and made their way forward creatively despite considerable sadness, pain and regret. There’s a great deal of passion here but not much of a dramatic arc until the final stages when all the plotlines eventually come together. Despite formal flaws this is heartfelt filmmaking. MT



Curfew (2020)

Dir.: Amir Ramses; Cast: Elham Shahin, Amina Khalil, Ahmed Magdy, Kamel El Basha; Egypt 2020, 96 min.

In this impressive domestic drama that won the main prize at this year’s Cairo Film Festival, Egyptian writer/director Amir Ramses takes on one of the biggest taboos in the Arab world: paedophilia. Flashbacks relating to the crime are coy but nevertheless disturbing considering the perpetrator is a senior member of his family, Ramses finding just the right balance to get his message across without upsetting the censors. s great to see veteran actor Elham Shahin back on the screen again, after so long,

Set in the autumn of 2013, the story revolves around an extended family in Cairo. Faten (Shahin) leaves prison after twenty years, having served time for the murder of her husband. Rumours say it was a ‘crime passionnel’ over her love affair with Yahia (El Basha), who – still lives – in the same apartment block – but the real motive has never surfaced.

Meanwhile, her embittered daughter Layla (Khalil) in waiting for her at the prison entrance with her husband Hassan (Magdy), a doctor in the local hospital. Layla has only visited her mother once in prison and is deeply resentful about her taking her father away from her. A local curfew makes it impossible for the former teacher to escape to her home in the country but she has her granddaughter Donia for company, and she also reconnects with Selma, Hassan’s niece. But Donia and Faten cross the line and reveal an unpalatable secret with tragic repercussions for all concerned.

Hassan is shown as an example of a progressive Arab man, Ramses  criticising working conditions for women: the nurses have only one way of promotion: a recommendation of a doctor – for which they have to pay with sex. His decision to stage most of the drama in domestic environments gives the feature an Ozuesque quality in its unity of space and time. The Curfew avoids sentimentality and dramatic overkill, finding a way to raise the profile of a society repressed by a cult of poisoned masculinity, camouflaging itself as religion. AS

THE CURFEW WON THE CAIRO FILM FESTIVAL‘s Golden Pyramid Award, along with BEST ACTRESS for Ilham Shaheen 2020

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