The press conference of the Egyptian Film Festival – Karim Abdel Aziz
CAIRO - 28 August 2017: The promising El Gouna Film Festival (GFF) hopes to launch an impressive first edition on September 22 through to September 29 to land itself a position amongst successful international screening venues. Among the fields it has put much effort into, screenwriting is an area where it sought partnership with the American Film Showcase (AFS) to invest in emerging film writers, sustaining the industry in the region.
GFF has focused on aspects beyond the red carpet and premiering films, which takes it to the level of successful international film festivals, U.S. embassy cultural attaché Ruth Anne Stevens told Egypt Today on the sidelines of a Cairo press conference announcing the GFF Sunday.
U.S. embassy Cultural Attaché Ruth Anne Stevens at the press conference – Karim Abdel Aziz
“It takes a lot of dedication and effort to develop any film festival, especially when it’s just starting out… the most successful film festivals really focus on the professional development of the craft - on helping young film writers, emerging film writers, directors, producers come together, giving them the opportunity to network to expand their ability to get their creative vision onto the screen but also to help them with opportunities for mentorship for professional education and development,” Stevens explained.
Egyptians set high standards for world-class festival
Funded by Egyptian businessmen Naguib and Sameh Sawiris, and sponsored by the Egyptian Culture Ministry and Egyptian Tourism Authority, El Gouna will host several activities other than the actual competition.
Egyptian actress Bushra Rozza, cofounder of the GFF said at the press conference that the one of the festival’s messages is to “tell the world that Egyptian cinema is able to present film productions that are able to challenge and compete on an international level.”
Egyptian actress Bushra Rozza takes a selfie with organizers of ElGouna Film Festival, including businessman Naguib Sawiris (right) – Karim Abdel Aziz
Roundtables, workshops, panels, master-lectures, seminars, special segments, and networking meetings of producers, distributors and directors from around the world will be held.
Stevens said she was impressed with the energy and efforts exerted by the organizers.
U.S. screenwriters to train emerging filmmakers
Award-winning screenwriter and director Richard Tanne, as well as screenwriter Jeff Stockwell - who has written many studio projects and worked as a contract writer at Pixar for a year - were proposed by the AFS to mentor and hold screenwriting workshops at the GFF.
Egyptian actress Nelly Karim and actor Ahmed al-Fishawy at the press conference – Karim Abdel Aziz
“I don’t think that they had any particular interest in the Middle East one way or another. Their focus, their interest in partnering with the AFS has really been on developing talent, and these two in particular were selected because of their expertise with screenwriting,” Stevens said.
The GFF’s main categories are Feature Narrative, Feature Documentary, Short Films, “Official out of Competition” selection, and Special Programs.
Competing films at the GFF come from Iran, Lebanon, India, Morocco, Jordan, Iraq, and Syria, France, Greece, U.S., Bulgaria, U.K., Japan, Serbia, Belgium, Switzerland, Spain, Canada, Singapore, Russia, Mexico, China, Netherlands, Senegal, Lithuania, Germany, Denmark, and Sweden.