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CANNES: Cairo Festival Revamps Operations

After a period of hiatus due to Egypt’s political turbulence the Cairo Film Festival is back with a new director, a new concept and a new time slot.

The 36th edition of Cairo, which is the oldest fest in the Arab and African worlds belonging to international fest org, FIAPF, is scheduled to run Nov. 9-18 with veteran Egyptian film critic Samir Farid (pictured) at the helm.

The prestigious fest was cancelled in 2011 and also in 2013 after a a rocky 2012 edition. Its customary time slot used to be the first week in December.

As for the possibility it could be cancelled again, Farid said he hoped after Egypt’s presidential elections, scheduled for May 26 and 27, “things will go back to normal.”

In taking on the job offer from Egypt’s ministry of culture Farid said he set two conditions: “no censorship and good projections quality.”

As for his vision, Farid’s first change is to include animation and documentary feature films to Cairo’s official selection where those genres were previously excluded.

Accordingly, the fest’s first confirmed title for competition is the international preem of docu “Red, Yellow, Blue” by Emirati director Nujoom Alghanem about pioneering Emirati female artist Najat Makki.

The Cairo topper is also adding several independantly run sections.

Cairo’s new Perspectives on Arab Cinema section will be run by the Egyptian Filmmakers’ Syndicate, while an Intl. Critics’ Week is being organized by Egypt’s film critics association. Farid has asked the students’ union to run the fest’s short films competition and organize a competive section for student films.

“I don’t know of any other festival in the world that provides a perspective on film from the film students’ point of view,” Farid boasted.

There will be a 16-pic Kurdish cinema retro.

Farid has also decided to eliminate Cairo’s film market component because, he said no deals were being done.
Instead, the fest will invite industryites connected to the selected films hoping that will drum up some informal biz.

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