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Having been canceled in 2013 and in 2011 because of Egypt’s two major revolutions and largely seen to have fallen by the wayside as compared to other, newer regional festivals such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the Cairo International Film Festival, now putting on its 36th installment, is seen as experiencing something of a reinvigoration.
Last year, it appointed veteran Egyptian film critic Samir Farid as director, and he immediately brought in acclaimed local directors Yousry Nasrallah and Ahmad Abdallah to the festival’s board, also forming a festival team made up of young filmmakers and critics. The response from the region has largely been one of enthusiasm and optimism about the festival’s return.
“Samir Farid has got a great team of young people who come from different backgrounds and add a lot, helping make the festival more diverse and more organized,” Egyptian producer Mohamed Hefzy told The Hollywood Reporter. Hefzy was behind the recent Egyptian hit Excuse My French, which recently screened at the BFI London Film Festival. “I think the programming is going to be fantastic. They’re great programmers, they love film, they’re hungry,” he adds.
Among the regional films appearing at the festival will be Palestine’s Oscar entry, Eyes of a Thief, directed by Najwa Najjar and starring Egyptian actor Khaled Abol Naga. Both are set to attend.
“What I appreciate most about the revival of the Cairo Film Festival is that in spit of all the political changes and upheavals, culture and cinema survives in the country which pioneered and advanced cinema throughout the Arab world,” said Najjar, also pointing to the fact that the festival is only one in the whole of Africa and the Middle East to be accredited by FIAPF.
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