With about 230 films from 53 countries unspooling at the 19th edition of the Cairo Film Festival (Nov. 27-Dec. 10), the event is taking on a more global perspective this year with less emphasis on U.S. pics.

Fest’s opener, Emir Kusturica’s “Underground” (a French- German-Hungarian co-production), set the tone for a more broadly based fest than usual.

Kusturica’s three-hour black comedy about recent Yugoslav history – winner of the 1995 Cannes Palme d’Or – was an unusual choice for a Cairo opener. Previous fests usually kicked off with a U.S. or Arab pic.

Some local film critics have blasted past editions for being top-heavy with U.S. films, especially actioners – pics that might fill the country’s cinemas with hefty B.O. receipts, but which leave serious Egyptian filmgoers with little to chew on.

Tight security surrounded the fest’s opening night venue, the 2,500-seat main hall at the Cairo Intl. Conference Center. Special police units were posted at all 19 other fest venues as a precaution against possible terrorist attacks.

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