Claudia Cardinale launched an appeal for tourists to return to Egyptian destinations in the wake of the recent Russian plane crash as the iconic Italian actress, unafraid of travelling to Egypt, received a lifetime achievement prize from the Cairo Film Festival which kicked off its 37th edition with Jonathan Demme’s Maryl Streep-starrer “Ricky and the Flash” sans talent in tow.
“Egypt is a peaceful country and it will rise again,” the Tunisian-born star, best known for her roles in Luchino Visconti’s “The Leopard” and Federico Fellini’s “8 1\2,” said from the stage of the Cairo Opera House on Wednesday evening, prior to the fest’s official opening ceremony, Italian news agency Ansa reported.
”Art and creativity can beat the culture of hate and death espoused by terrorism,” Cardinale added. “I hope tourists come back soon.”
The Metrojet Airbus A321 crash, which on Oct. 31 killed 224 people on board – and is considered likely to have been caused by a bomb planted on the plane – has of course caused some expected fest attendees to cancel their trips.
But a considerable numbers of others have instead made the trek to Cairo, including British producer Paul Webster, who heads the fest’s jury, and fellow jurors among whom French producer Anne-Dominique Toussaint, Peruvian director Jonathan Relayze Chiang, Indian actress Radhika Apte, and Georgian director George Ovashvili (“Corn Island”).
The fest’s opening ceremony was also the occasion to celebrate late great actor Omar Sharif, Egyptian icon Faten Hamama, to whom Sharif was married for nearly twenty years, and hugely popular Egyptian actor Noor el-Sharif, who passed away in August.
The Cairo fest is now under new management with the appointment earlier this year as president of Magda Wassef, former head of the Luxor fest, and of prominent film critic and academic Youssef Cherif Rizkallah as artistic director.
The new team has reinstated the Cairo Film Connection co-production platform market component for Arab filmmakers which just forged a partnership with the Abu Dhabi-based Sanad fund which will provide a cash prize of $10,000 and also other prizes to projects by Arab filmmakers in development and post.
International pics set to unspool in Cairo include Cannes Palme d’Or-winner “Dheepan,” by French director Jacques Audiard; Berlin Silver Bear winner “Aferim” by Romanian helmer Radu Jude; and “Hungry Hearts” by Italy’s Saverio Costanzo, which scooped both male and female acting nods in Venice in 2014, respectively for Adam Driver and Alba Rohrwacher.
The Cairo fest will run through November 20.