Cairo International Film Festival

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The Cairo International Film Festival (Arabic: مهرجان القاهرة السينمائي الدولي‎‎) is an annual film festival held in Cairo, Egypt. It was established in 1976 and was the first international film festival held in the Arab world. It has taken place every year since its inception, except for 2011 and 2013, when it was cancelled due to budget limitations and political instability.[1][2] The 37th edition will take place from November 11th, to 20th, 2015. It is the only international competitive feature film festival recognized by the FIAPF in the Arab world and Africa, as well as the oldest in this category.


In 1975, after a visit to the Berlin Film Festival the late writer-critic Kamal El Mallakh and a group of like-minded cinema critics wondered why such a world-class festival couldn't take place in Egypt. The country was still riding the crest of Egyptian cinema's golden age and contained a formidable film industry, still the biggest in the Arab world. The Cairo International Film Festival was launched in 1976.[3]

The 1976 festival featured around 100 films from 33 countries, with 14 films from 14 different countries in competition. In an effort to celebrate the best international cinema, the Cairo International Film Festival has proven its daring and versatility year after year and continues to act as a meeting point not only for filmmakers and critics but also for writers, intellectuals and other artists.

The Egyptian Association of Film Writers and Critics headed the festival for the first seven years until 1983. In the following year, the Union of Artist's Syndicates supervised the festival, and after that point, several associations mustered their resources to run the festival. The Egyptian Association of Film Writers and Critics joined with the Ministry of Culture and the Union of Artist's Syndicates to form a joint committee in 1985 to improve the quality and financial state of the festival.

21st century

The Cairo International Film Festival moved into the 21st century with hope. Hussein Fahmy, President of Cairo Fest, told at the turn of the Millennium: "As we are moving into the new century, we want to put away the wars and bombings and remember to laugh."

Egyptians seem grateful for the Festival, most are never exposed to films made outside of Egypt other than commercial level Hollywood productions. The Festival offers audiences the opportunity to watch films from other countries and gain insights into their customs, concerns, and cultures.

Despite behind-the-scenes interference from a severe dictatorship, Cairo's International Film Festival sometimes becomes a forum for political and cultural statements. 2003 became a major year for the festival when Egyptian film director Khaled Hagar presented his controversial 'Girls' Love.' This only Egyptian entry to the festival that year was the story of a love affair between a young Egyptian man and a Jewish woman. Hagar was strongly criticized in a country where the majority of people passionately oppose closer ties with the neighboring Jewish state.

Festival presidents

The presidents of the CIFF festival since it was founded in 1976 to 2006 are Saad El-Din Wahba, Hussein Fahmy and Sherif El Shoubashy. In the year 2006 a new president was appointed for the festival by Egyptian culture minister Farouk Hosny, he is Egyptian actor and musician Ezzat Abou-Ouf. In 2015, Magda Wassef was appointed as the new president. In 2009 the festival celebrated the contributions of Latin America movies, and honoured the French musician Charles Aznavour, the American actor Danny Glover, and other artists.

Awards and honorees

The Cairo International Film Festival, in its annual celebration and examination of the state of cinema in the world today, has awarded many Egyptian and internationally renowned actors, actresses, and directors. Special awards, such as the Best Arab Film Award, is awarded to the most exceptional regional films of the year.

Major Award Winners
Year Best Film (Golden Pyramid) Best Director Best Actor Best Actress
United States The Object of Beauty United States Michael Lindsay-Hogg
for The Object of Beauty
Portugal Joaquim de Almeida
for Family Portrait
Germany Christiane Heinrich
for Suspicion
China Those Left Behind United Kingdom Michael Apted
for Thunderheart
Denmark Ole Lemmeke
for The Naked Trees
China Xiu Jingshuang
for Those Left Behind
State of PalestineIsraelNetherlandsGermanyFrance Curfew Syria Nabil Maleh
for The Extras
Poland Andrzej Seweryn
for Amok
Russia Marina Neyolova
for You Are My Only One
France Colonel Chabert France Yves Angelo
for Colonel Chabert
Egypt Nour El-Sherif
for A Hot Night
Egypt Laila Elwi
for More Love, Less Violence
Philippines The Flor Contemplacion Story Ukraine Sergei Masloboischikov
for Josephine, the Singer and the Mice People
Republic of Ireland Stephen Rea
for Citizen X
Philippines Nora Aunor
for The Flor Contemplacion Story
Egypt A Girl Called Apple Greece Pantelis Voulgaris
for Akropol
Egypt Abu Bakr Ezzat
for The Woman and the Hatchet
Germany Julia Jäger
for Outside Time
FranceItalySpain The Chambermaid on the Titanic Spain Bigas Luna
for The Chambermaid on the Titanic
Bosnia and Herzegovina Davor Janjić
for Outsider
Egypt Reem Al-Turki
for Ceremonial Wedding Dress
India Malli India Santosh Sivan
for Malli
Greece Paschalis Tsarouhas
for Vasiliki
China Mei Ting
for A Time to Remember
France A Major Inconvenience Slovakia Martin Šulík
for Prague Stories (Segment: "Pictures from the Visit")
Egypt Mahmoud Abdel Aziz
for Pleasure Market
Iran Pegah Ahangarani
for The Girl in the Sneakers
China Sigh France Roch Stéphanik
for Stand-by
China Zhang Guoli
for Sigh
China Xu Fan
for Sigh
France Dominique Blanc
for Stand-by
Belgium Pauline and Paulette Romania Sinișa Dragin
for Everyday God Kisses Us on the Mouth
United Kingdom Paul Freeman
for Morlang
Iran Niki Karimi
for The Hidden Half
Hungary The Last Blues India Mrinal Sen
for My Land
Egypt Ahmed Zaki
for His Excellency the Minister
India Nandita Das
for My Land
Iran Katayoun Riahi
for The Last Supper
Greece The King China Liang Shan
for The Father
China Song Guofeng
for The Father
France Sandrine Kiberlain &
France Sylvie Testud
for Sole Sisters
Italy Guardians of the Clouds Argentina Héctor Olivera
for Ay Juancito
Argentina Adrián Navarro
for Ay Juancito
Greece Sofocles Peppas
for Dust
Hungary Eszter Bagaméri
for Guarded Secrets
Egypt Nelly Karim
for My Soul Mate
FinlandSweden Mother of Mine Finland Klaus Härö
for Mother of Mine
Albania Bujar Lako
for Magic Eye
Sweden Maria Lundqvist
for Mother of Mine
China The Road Iran Khosro Masumi
for Somewhere Too Far
Argentina Nicolás Mateo
for Speed Begets Oblivion
China Zhang Jingchu
for The Road
France Intimate Enemies France Florent Emilio Siri
for Intimate Enemies
France Albert Dupontel
for Intimate Enemies
Mexico Marina Magro
for Opera
Russia Tatyana Lyutaeva
for Full Scope
Spain Return to Hansala Denmark Pernille Fischer Christensen
for Dancers
Argentina Juan Diego Botto
for El Greco
Belgium Yolande Moreau
for Séraphine
Finland Letters to Father Jacob France Mona Achache
for The Hedgehog
Egypt Fathy Abdel Wahab
for The Nile Birds
India Subrat Dutta
for Madholal Keep Walking
Poland Karolina Piechota
for Splinters
Egypt Lust Bulgaria Svetoslav Ovtcharov
for Voice Over
Egypt Amr Waked &
Italy Alessandro Gassman
for The Father and the Foreigner
France Isabelle Huppert
for Copacabana
Egypt Sawsan Badr
for Lust
SwedenFrance Rendez-vous in Kiruna Poland Marian Dziędziel
for The Fifth season of the Year
Venezuela Vanessa Di Quattro
for Breach in the Silence
Iran Melbourne Egypt Khaled Abol Naga
for Eyes of a Thief
France Adèle Haenel
for Love at First Fight
International actors awarded include

Marcello Mastroianni, Catherine Deneuve, John Malkovich, Elizabeth Taylor, Morgan Freeman, Sivaji Ganesan, Samuel L. Jackson, Sophia Loren, Claudia Cardinale, Leslie Caron, Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, Gina Lollobrigida, Peter O'Toole, Omar Sharif, Ornella Muti, Victoria Abril, Shashi Kapoor, Alain Delon, Nicolas Cage, Goldie Hawn, Kurt Russell, Greta Scacchi, Julia Ormond, Mira Sorvino, Khalid Abdalla, Alicia Silverstone, Priscilla Presley, Stuart Townsend, Yolande Moreau, Christopher Lee, Irene Papas, Nora Aunor, Bud Spencer, Tom Berenger, Salma Hayek, Lucy Liu, Juliette Binoche, Dominique Blanc and Charlize Theron.

Internationally renowned directors awarded include

Robert Wise, Elia Kazan, Vanessa Redgrave, Oliver Stone, Roland Joffe, Carlos Saura, Ismail Merchant, Moustapha Akkad, and Michelangelo Antonioni.

Honored people and films include

The CIFF 2004 Best Arab Film Award was given to an Egyptian film, Inas El-Degheidy's 'Searching for Freedom.'

In 2005 the CIFF honored its two star guests, American actor Morgan Freeman and French actress Leslie Caron. There was a screening of American actor and director Clint Eastwood's 'Million Dollar Baby' starring Freeman, Eastwood and Hilary Swank; and American director Vincent Minnelli's classic musical 'An American in Paris' (1951), starring Caron and Gene Kelly. CIFF's other 2005 honorees included Mohamed Mounir and Hanan Turk for their roles in Lebanese director Jocelyne Saab's Dunia (2005 film), a controversial film focusing on censorship and the oppression of women in Egypt. The Syrian American producer and director Moustapha Akkad, who died in a 2005 terrorist attack in Amman, Jordan, was also honored that year. He is best remembered for 'Mohammad, Messenger of God' (1976) (U.S. 'The Message') about the early days of Islam, and for the spine-chilling 'Halloween' movie series.

Cairo Film Connection

The Cairo Film Connection is the latest coproduction platform aiming at maximizing networking to induce coproductions for films originating from the Arab world.

The first year, around 10 projects will be selected by a team of experts. Directors and producers will be invited to the Cairo Film Connection to pitch their projects over a period of 3 days to key industry professionals whether international or from the region.

Circulation of the selected project in Arabic and English as well as, individualized meetings scheduled in advance should maximize exposure of the projects and optimize all the participants experience.

Guests will be carefully selected to cover all stages of development of film production, funding, distribution, marketing, broadcasting, sales, festivals.

In addition to the exposure offered to film-makers during the Cairo Film Connection, the Egyptian Ministry of Culture is offering a special award amounting to $10,000.


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External links