Cairo Film Festival Changes Management After Previous Team Resigns in Protest

Eyes of a Thief - H 2014
Courtesy of Ustura Films

Eyes of a Thief - H 2014

The outgoing team revitalized the festival but lasted just one year.

The Cairo International Film Festival, which was revamped for its 36th edition in 2014 following a period of decline during the Egyptian revolution, has a new management team.

Magda Wassef, who previously headed up the country’s Luxor Film Festival, has been named festival president, while film academic Youssef Cherif Rizkallah is artistic director.

The news comes two months after the previous management team – led by prominent film critic Samir Farid – resigned after just a year running the festival, one of the Middle East’s oldest.

Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, one member of the team, Joseph Fahim, revealed that he, Farid and artistic director Mohammed Samir resigned following an investigation that was opened up by Minister of Culture Gaber Asfour over the festival’s budget and finances.

"A committee was formed to investigate this and was supposed to issue a report condemning or clearing the festival management," said Fahim. "The committee finished its work and found nothing."

However, he claimed that requests to Asfour to publish the reports of the committee and clear the names of the management team have been refused. "So we resigned. Up till this very moment, the results of the committee have not been made public."

A source revealed to THR that the culture minister had initially praised the festival, making a speech at the awards ceremony that celebrated its choice of an Iranian film – Nima Javidi’s Melbourne – for the top Golden Pyramid prize. However, the next day the same minister declared that the festival was "undermining" the government and launched the investigation.

The source added that the charges were "trumped up" and typical of the regime of Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi attempting to put down dissent.

Having been canceled in 2011 and 2013 due to civil unrest and cut short in 2012, the 2014 edition of the Cairo International Film Festival was considered a dramatic revitalization, with a new structure in place including an industry forum and a noticeable buzz at the event itself.