As if we needed any further indication of just how badly relations have deteriorated in the Middle East, the Cairo Intl. Film Festival has become the latest flashpoint.
Heading into the last days of this year’s fest, which ran Oct. 7-17, Egyptian filmmakers were urging fest organizers to withdraw the only Egyptian pic in official competition because its director, Khaled Al-Hagar, made a film suggesting he backed the normalization of relations with Israel.
The movie that had them up in arms was “A Barrier Divides Us,” a romance that pairs an Egyptian man and Jewish woman in London.
What’s strange, however, is that Al-Hagar film wasn’t in this year’s fest; he made “A Barrier Divides Us” a decade ago, in 1993.
Nonetheless, protesters wanted to see the removal of Al-Hagar’s most recent film, “Womens’ Loves,” an apolitical drama about three half-sisters who only meet upon the death of their father .
Stranger still: Article 8 of the festival’s own regulations states that “During the period of the festival, no invited film will be withdrawn from the festival’s program.”
Hagar’s film was the only Egyptian entry among the 19 films in the official competition. A total of 210 films from 45 different countries were scheduled to screen.
Israeli filmmakers are routinely barred from participating in the fest, which marked its 27th year.