CAIRO – 29 August 2018: Top brass at El-Gouna international Film Festival (GIFF) held a press conference on August 28 to announce the details of its second edition, which is set to take place in El-Gouna from September 20-28.
The press conference was attended by GIFF founder Naguib Sawiris ,El-Gouna founder Samih Sawiris, GIFF director Intishal al-Tamimi, Minister of Tourism Rania al-Mashat, executive director of GIFF Amr Mansy and GIFF co-founder Bushra Rozza.
This year, 15 films are participating in the Feature Narrative Competition, 12 films in the Feature Documentary Competition, 23 films in the Short Film Competition, and five films in GIFF’s special retrospectives program. "The festival will be screening 25 films out of competition, which brings the total count to 80 films, 10 films more than the first edition," Tamimi told Egypt Today.
Press conference of the 2nd edition of El Gouna Film Festival, taking place from September 20-28.
Tamimi added that the festival will also run for one more day than last year's edition, most films will be subtitled and most screenings will be followed by discussions with the filmmakers and cast in an attempt to further engage film-loving audiences.
“For the second year in a row, GIFF is planning to turn El-Gouna into a hub of international celebrities, filmmakers and cinema enthusiasts from around the globe. Its inaugural round was a big success, not only for the festival team, but also for the entire town of El-Gouna, which played a major role in creating a unique experience of culture and entertainment for the festival’s guests. It is a work in progress, which will hopefully place El-Gouna among the most prestigious centers of art, such as Cannes or Locarno,” says El-Gouna founder Samih Sawiris.
GIFF management announced in the press conference that they will grant the Creative Achievement Award to iconic Egyptian director Daoud Abdel Sayed and Tunisian producer Dora Bouchoucha. This year’s jury includes world-renowned Arab actor Ali Suliman, Egyptian film star Mona Zaki, acclaimed Moroccan director Ahmed el-Maanouni, and newly-appointed Berlinale director Carlo Chatrian, Croatian producer Cedomir Kolar, Palestinian director Rashid Masharawi, film programmer Ally Derks and three-time Green Oscar winning filmmaker from India Mike Pandey.
The jury also includes Georgian director Ana Urushadze, whose film "Scary Mother" won GIFF’s Golden Star in 2017, Jordanian actress Saba Mubarak, Austrian programmer Doris Bauer, and Palestinian actor Kamel el-Basha, who won the Best Actor Award at the 2017 Venice Film Festival.
“What encouraged us to establish GIFF was our firm belief in the key role art, especially cinema, plays in the development of society on one hand, and our keen desire to challenge the regressive and fanatic ideas that seem to dominate the world on the other hand,” said GIFF founder Naguib Sawiris during his speech in the press conference.
CineGouna Platform is also taking on more titles this year; 12 projects in development and six in post-production. In 2017, the platform received 55 applications, a number that reached 145 submissions in 2018 (101 in development and 44 in post-production). The awards in 2017 totalled $60,000 ($40,000 from supporting entities and $20,000 from GIFF), while this year the prize money reached $150,000, of which GIFF is providing $30,000, and the rest is provided by other cinema and media institutions.
“We are still as enthusiastic as we were when we first conceived the idea for this festival, and this year we are striving to present an even more memorable experience for all our guests and audiences,” recounted Tamimi during the press conference.
Tamimi added that while last year the festival celebrated two classics by Youssef Chahine and Nasser Khmeir, this year it pays tribute to three cinematic legends. "GIFF commemorates the 10th anniversary of Chahine’s passing with an exhibition of his films’ posters and some of his belongings, in addition to a spectacle featuring scenes from his films accompanied by a live performance of selections from his films scores, played by a 50-piece orchestra led by Maestro Hisham Gabr," Tamimi added.
In addition, an exhibition featuring posters of films by Federico Fellini will be on view in remembrance of the 25th anniversary of his passing. Two films by legendary Swedish director Ingmar Bergman will be screened, and photographs related to his career will be displayed in an exhibition organized in coordination with the Swedish Embassy and the Swedish Film Institute.
"It gives us a great pleasure as the government of Egypt, particularly the Ministry of Tourism, to be part of El-Gouna film Festival. It is an international film festival in its second year and it is truly a fantastic event where people can come and bridge any gaps between them through art, music and films. Movies are always a way for people to get to know each other," said Mashat in her speech.
GIFF’s management continues its cooperation with international entities, including its partnership with Variety. During the festival, Variety will be presenting their annual Arab Talent Award, which was given to Lebanese director Ziad Doueiri last year. His film "The Insult" was later nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. The festival’s partnership with Festival Scope has also been renewed, allowing festival guests to access the platform’s library of films during the festival and for 10 days after it ends.
“It is this conviction that drives us to continue this journey, hoping that more like-minded and committed people will join it and help us take it forward," Naguib Sawiris added.
GIFF has a new partnership with Asia Pacific Screen Awards (APSA). As part of this cooperation, GIFF has nominated three Arab films for the consideration of the 2018 APSA Awards.
Minister of Tourism Rania El-Mashat delivers a speech during the 2nd edition of El Gouna Film Festival press conference
GIFF also announces its partnership with UniFrance. Through this newly formed cooperation, UniFrance, an association administered by the National Centre for Cinema and the Moving Image, will facilitate a connection between French producers and distributors and GIFF, allowing GIFF’s programming team to preview their latest productions and projects in post-production.
With the help of UniFrance, GIFF has selected six French films that will be screened at the festival this year. Some of the most important festivals in the world have the same partnership with UniFrance, such as Locarno, Toronto and Venice. From this year onwards, GIFF will also be part of the official festival calendar on UniFrance's website.
GIFF’s management confirms that it intends to continue with a reasonable budget and the right circumstances to attract the right sponsors for the festival.
Last year’s edition was mainly financed by engineers Samih Sawiris and Naguib Sawiris, yet this year's edition, as recounted by Bushra, relies on its main sponsors, Orascom Development Egypt and Orascom Investment, in association with Attijariwafa Bank, Orange, El-Gouna, Beltone Financial, Mara, Makadi Heights, Carrier, JWT, and Careem, under the auspices of the ministries of culture and tourism.
Additionally, GIFF disclosed in the press conference its partnership with CBC as the main TV sponsor of the festival. CBC will be providing comprehensive coverage of the opening and closing ceremonies as well as all the festival events and activities. GIFF is happy to collaborate with CBC, one of the leading Egyptian networks that support the festival and Egyptian arts.
“Last year, three screening halls were renovated, refurbished and equipped with state-of-the-art projection and sound systems for the festival. I am proud to note that these cinemas were in use throughout the year. We hope our experience inspires other cities in Egypt to develop cultural infrastructure by embracing film festivals and other artistic events,” Samih Sawiris added.
“With GIFF’s second edition, we are still pursuing the same objectives we started with last year: to create a line-up with a balance between acclaimed and awarded films, and to secure certain titles to premiere in the festival. All films participating in the second edition of GIFF were produced in 2018, and their screening in the festival marks their Arab premiere,” Tamimi added.
The press conference was attended by several members of the festival’s jury, including Mona Zaki and Saba Mubarak, as well as filmmakers and cast members of some of the participating films, including "Yomeddine"’s A.B. Shawky and Dina Emam; "Gunshot"’s Karim el-Shenawy, Haitham Dabbour, Ruby, Ahmed Malek, Mohamed Mamdouh and Asmaa Abul yazeid; the stars of the short film "Fork and Knife" Asser Yassin and Menna Shalaby; in addition to director of documentary film "Dream Away", Marouan Omara.
GIFF’s International Advisory Board includes renowned actress Yousra, acclaimed filmmaker Yousry Nasrallah and Tunisian actress Hend Sabri, in addition to Career Achievement Award honoree Daoud Abdel Sayed.