Khaled al-Haggar's pic takes the Golden Pyramid award

CAIRO — Egyptian melodrama “Lust” (Al-shooq), directed by Khaled al-Haggar, took home the Golden Pyramid Thursday night at the 34th Cairo Film Festival, the oldest annual cinema event in the Arab world.

In addition to the usual competitions as well as a full slate of symposia, the fest hosted its first co-production market, the Cairo Film Connection, headed by producer/helmer Marianne Khoury under the auspices of the Egyptian Film Center and Misr Intl. Films.

Ten scripts competed for a pre-production funding grant of Egyptian £100,00 ($17,200), which was awarded to Ayten Amin’s black comedy, “69 Al-Mesaha Square” (69 Medan Al-Mesaha).

Bulgarian helmer Svetoslav Ovtcharov nabbed the director prize for “Voice Over,” which also received the Fipresci international jury’s nod of distinction.

Thesping awards were split for both genders: the actress honor was shared by Sawsan Badr for “Lust” and Isabelle Huppert for Marc Fitoussi’s “Copacabana,” while best actor was shared by Alessandro Gassman and Amr Waked for Ricky Tognazzi’s “The Father and the Foreigner,” which preemed at the Rome Film Festival.

Also cut down the middle was the scripting prize, which went to Lebanese helmer Georges Hachem for “Stray Bullet” and Mohamed Al-Daradji for Iraq’s “Son of Babylon.”

In other sections, Ahmad Abdalla’s “Microphone,” an infectious indie tale set against Alexandria’s underground music scene, won the Arab Film competition.

Following screenings in international fests including Toronto, London, Vancouver and Carthage, the pic was given an adulatory reception by a standing-room-only crowd for its Egyptian premiere.

Dutch drama “Joy,” by helmer Mijke de Jong, went home with the top prize in the digital competition. Juliette Binoche and Richard Gere were on-hand at the fest’s start to receive career tributes.

The three-day Cairo Film Connection platform attracted 10 Arab filmmakers, including Assad Fouladkar, Tamer Ezzat, and Asaad Kelada, who pitched projects to a range of producers, distributors and sales agents as well a five-person international jury. An announced post-production grant for a work-in-progress was not awarded.

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