Tag Archives: Cairo

Cairo International Film Festival – There’s Always Next Year

Posted by Larry Gleeson

By Jamie N. Christley

From the window of an airplane, metropolitan Cairo seems to stretch into infinity, a truly ancient city that keeps adding onto itself, year after year. A handful of cities occupy a greater land area, but fewer appear to be as impossibly intricate and dense, its overwhelming breadth a dreamed thing. The next thing you notice is that Cairo wears its history on its sleeve. Very little fails to carry signification of events and people, past and present. Does your town have a bridge named after an historic date? The river island of Zamalek connects with Tahrir Square and points east using the “6th of October Bridge,” named for a successful show of force against Israeli occupiers in 1967. Even the hotel where most guests of the Cairo International Film Festival stayed, the Cairo Marriott, has thick roots in the 19th century, as related by a short documentary preloaded in each room’s television set, explaining the co-location of a sleek, modern hotel within the 150-year-old Gezirah Palace. The Marriott, by the virtue of its dual structure, symbolizes the city’s relentless, incremental layering of the new upon or within the old, the way a very old cathedral might be built over the ruins of an ancient one.


You can experience the festival from beginning to end without leaving the island of Zamalek, which sits in the Nile River the same way as Roosevelt Island sits lodged between Manhattan and Queens on the East River. A 20-minute walk or—at peak times—a 30-minute drive conveys festival attendees to the Cairo Opera House, where, at each individual screening, you to pass through up to four metal detectors. The cadre of security personnel at each juncture carry out their duties without panic or fuss, occasionally taking a drag off a cigarette or a sip of koshary tea. Breaking up the landscape outside the Opera House is a solitary figure holding an assault rifle and standing at perfect attention for hours on end; in his 100% black outfit, kevlar accoutrements, and totally concealed face, he looks like none other than Kylo Ren from The Force Awakens. One doesn’t talk to him.

Every screening observes assigned seating protocol. When I took my seat for This Life of Mine, the usher led me, with the grave precision of a funeral director, to my exact chosen seat in an auditorium that remained empty but for one other attendee. Dozens of ticket-holders enter any given screening up to half an hour late, the insidious maglights that are now a standard feature on smartphones bathing the room in errant stabs of piercing light, as if they were volunteers combing the woods for a missing child.

Navigating the festival structure was challenging in some ways, simple in others. The tactic employed by festivalgoers in Toronto and elsewhere, of timing a contingency screening in case something goes wrong with your main choice (projection failure, a shutout, a bad film), staggered by a few minutes to allow for travel between venues, has no play in Cairo, where upward of 10 to 12 films start at exactly the same time, four times a day. If, say, the projection for one film fails, which actually happened to me when the correct media files for the 2003 Chinese film Cell Phone went missing, you’re out of luck for anything else playing during the same timeslot, unless you can suppress your inner Alvy Singer and miss the opening 15 or so minutes.

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The Cairo International Film Festival ran from November 15 —24.

(Source: slantmagazine.com)


Revolution of new Egyptian cinema at Cairo film fest

Posted by Larry Gleeson

By Cristiana Missori

CAIRO – Eight square meters for 25 prisoners – American journalists, Muslim Brothers, common citizens – who were arrested by Egyptian police during violent demonstrations following the ouster of Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi in the summer of 2013 star in the opening film of the International film festival in Cairo.

These characters, detained together for a whole day, are featured in Eshtebak (Clash) by Egyptian director Mohamed Diab, that opened the section ‘Un certain regard’ at the latest Cannes Film Festival.

The movie will be presented on Friday night at the Cairo event, which runs until November 24.

It was greenlighted by censors in July and hit movie theaters. However, the film was pulled out a few days later, as denounced by the filmmaker.

And the festival’s artistic director, Youssef Rizkallah, has decided to screen other controversial movies.

Several films focusing on key issues of the 2011 revolution and 2013 protests will be screened in the section dedicated to new Egyptian cinema (eight films have been produced between 2015 and 2016).

They focus on the violence of those terrible days of Raba’a Al Adaweya – when over 600 civilians were killed and thousands wounded – as well as human and sentimental relations during those events with the uprising on the background.

One of them is Sins of the Flesh by Haram El Gasad, which is set in a remote farm in the Egyptian countryside where echoes of the uprising impact the lives of protagonists, and Out of Order by Mahmoud Kamel and Bitter Moon by Hany Khalifa. A box-office hit to be screened is also Hepta: the Last Lecture by Hadi El-Bagoury, a movie based on the best seller by the same name.

There are lighter stories that talk about sex (never explicitly), food and betrayal, like the latest work by Yousry Nasrallah, Books, Meadows and Lovely Faces, presented a few days ago at the Medfilm festival in Rome. Another is the latest movie by Mohamed Khan, Before the Summer Crowds, and Nawara by Hala Khalil focusing on social inequality in the country.

(Source: http://www.ansamed.info)