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Of Hope and Children

The Luxor African Film Festival opens with The Children’s Republic, a story of hopes and dreams

American actor Danny Glover and  Bissau-Guinean film director Flora Gomes held a press conference on Wednesday to launch the third edition of the Luxor African Film Festival (LAFF) which opened with The Children’s Republic, inspired by the Glover’s visit to Africa in 2004.

“In 2004 I had the opportunity to travel to an African country and there I saw for myself the aftermath of civil war and its effect on children in particular: Millions of landmines around that south African country’s border had caused countless deaths and children were all armed so they could fight and keep up the civil strife,” Glover told conference attendees. “When I read the screenplay, I saw that it [encapsulated] all those scenes I had witnessed [on the ground] and I felt I could see into myself through this film, which attempts to give an idea about effecting change in Africa in the future and reflects the attitude of many of those who carry weapons in Africa. The film shows that all they [the children] want is to take back their childhood… It’s the women and children who are always the victims in any strife, and this is why they need to be the foundations of any new nation.”

732A7322This is Glover’s fourth visit to Egypt but the first for his Brazilian wife who teaches and works with African-American children. Glover himself has worked on several African projects and explained how he has “a desire to work on African films. I’ve worked on seven on the continent so far, among them the TV production of Mandela.”

Gomes, who directed the futuristic drama in which adults flee an Africanstate, leaving children to fend for themselves, spoke of Glover’s contribution to the project and to the insights he gave him as he was directing. “Danny supported the movie from the very first minute even before he started working on it. Directors in Africa can never even dream of having such big names to star in their movies!”

Speaking about why he decided to work on The Children’s Republic, Gomes explained that growing up he was influenced by many leaders, among them Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser. “Over the past 20 years I’ve always asked myself what I would address as a filmmaker. [I believe in] giving a chance to the youth so they can produce, especially since youth can achieve and if given the opportunity can change their countries for the better. And that’s where the idea for The Children’s Republic came from. A country where children can run things their own way. It’s a story full of hope.”

Both Glover and Gomes are guests of honor at the film festival, organized by LAFF Head Sayed Fouad and Manager Azza El-Husseiny. The festival is curated by Egypt Today film critic Sherif Awad.

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