Tahrir Square drama to launch first edition since revolution
ROMEThe Cairo Film Festival will open its first edition following the Tahrir Square revolution with Egyptian helmer Ibrahim El Batout’s eye-opening drama “Winter of Discontent.” “Winter,” which bowed at Venice in September, is about torture during the Hosni Mubarak regime and attempts by secret police to quash the revolution. “It’s very significant for us, considering the nature and the content of the film, to have our Middle East launch in Egypt and also to open the festival’s first post-revolution edition of the festival,” pic’s producer, Amr Waked, told Variety. Waked, an Egyptian movie star and multihyphenate known internationally for roles in “Syriana,” “House of Saddam,” and “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen,” also toplines “Winter” as a tortured activist computer whiz. “It’s really important for the Egyptian people to see this film,” he said. After unspooling in Cairo on Nov. 27, “Winter” will screen on Nov. 28 at the European Parliament in Brussels as part of a series of pics reflecting current Arab world turmoil. Pic has also recently unspooled at fests in Chicago, London and Sao Paulo, and is tipped for a Dubai slot. Swipe Films recently sold U.K. and Irish rights to New Wave Films. “Winter” will be released theatrically in mid-January in Egypt via the distributor known as The Trio (Al Massa, Oscar and El Nasr). Cairo, the oldest film fest in the Middle East and Africa, has been in turmoil since the January 2011 Tahrir Square uprising. Last year’s edition of the fest was scrapped after the board decided to regroup with the country in political post-revolutionary transition. Despite being now headed by respected filmmaker and producer Marianne Khoury, the event is still considered on shaky ground by many in the Egyptian film community. The 35th edition of the Cairo fest will run Nov. 27-Dec. 6.