Cairo Film Festival Cancels Awards Amid Political Turmoil in Egypt

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Egyptian directors boycotted the festival under jury president Marco Mueller as political protests in the country continue.

The Cairo Film Festival canceled its closing ceremonies Thursday night as Egypt braces for another round of violent protests against the country's new president, Mohammed Morsi.

In lieu of an awards ceremony, the Festival held a press conference at the Cairo Opera House where the jury under president Marco Mueller, handed out the awards. The jury, however, did not give out prizes for best director or best screenplay - a response, Mueller said, to the protests by Egyptian filmmakers, many of which had boycotted the festival.

The 35th Cairo Film Festival, when it kicked off Nov. 27, initially defied the growing unrest in Egypt - which was sparked by a President Morsi's Nov. 22 decree which stripped Egypt's judiciary of all powers to challenge his decisions. The protests became impossible to ignore, however, as demonstrators took to the streets and were violently suppressed by Morsi's forces.

A fresh round of protests is expected today after Friday prayers at mosques and in squares across Egypt.

Mueller's jury kept clear of any political controversy with its award choices, handing out all its trophies to non-Arabic films.

Anna Novion's French drama Rendez-vous a Kiruna won Best Film. Venezuelan newcomer Vanessa Di Quattro took Best Actress for her performance as a hearing impaired woman working in a textile company with her exploitive mother in A Breach in the Silence from directors Luis and Andres Rodrguez. Marian Dziedziel won Best Actor for his starring role in Jerzy Domaradzki's Polish drama The Fifth Season of the Year and a special prize went to Giuliano Montaldo for L'industriale, a drama about a failing factory in northern Italy.