Star power is Cairo key

CAIRO — New Cairo Film Festival president Sherif Al Shoubashi is looking to combine his journalism expertise and foreign diplomacy to give the fest more star power and pay off its 1½ million Egyptian pound ($300,000) debt.

“The first priority is to settle the finances and start planning the film festival to be held Oct. 14-25,” says Shoubashi, appointed on Feb. 1; he was also tapped Deputy Culture Minister.

Shoubashi spent the past 21 years in Paris, including the past 16 years as Paris bureau chief of the Al Ahram Newspaper and five years with UNESCO. He assumed the job after popular actor Hussein Fahmy resigned amid complaints of administrative financial mismanagement.

“Each year, the Cairo Festival faces competition for good films, but it must become more of an attraction to be able to attract the best,” Shoubashi says. “The Festival needs an equilibrium with the French and European participants and American cinema, the most popular in Egypt.”

Shoubashi is also looking to a stronger market this year. “The Cairo Film Festival should be a golden opportunity in the Arab world to help the Egyptian film industry and invite important distributors from key countries. In two weeks, we have the chance to open new markets, like the former Soviet Republics, to sell our films,” Shoubashi says.

A recent reception was attended by the entire Egyptian film industry, which mostly boycotted last year’s film festival, indicating a good start for the new prexy.

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