Cairo fest cancels closing ceremony

Jury decides not to bestow several awards

Reflecting turmoil in Egypt, the revived Cairo Film Festival closed Thursday with the jury not awarding some of the top prizes and organizers cancelling the closing ceremony.

Jury prexy Marco Mueller said that the jury’s unanimous decision not to bestow nods for best director, screenplay and artistic contribution stemmed from its “attentive transcription of the turbulence underway,” as the fest faced an increasing number of boycotts by Egyptian filmmakers.

The 35th edition of the event took place amid demonstrations against a power grab by Egypt’s Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.

Local industryites pulled out largely in a show of support for demonstrators and also in protest against the country’s Muslim Brotherhood-controlled ministry of culture, which, many claim, is undermining the fest’s artistic independence.

Accordingly, the Cairo Film Festival nods that the jury did dish out went to non-Arab films.

The best film nod went to Gallic helmer Anna Novion’s drama “Rendez-vous a Kiruna,” about a man who travels to Lapland to bury his son whom he never knew.

The best actress nod went to Venezuelan actress Vanessa Di Quattro for her perf as a deaf 19-year-old subjected to physical and emotional abuse in “Brecha en el silencio” (Breach in the Silence) by Venezuelan first-timers Luis and Andres Rodriguez. Pic, praised by the jury for “tearing off the mask of oppression,” also took the prize for best film by an emerging director.

Polish thesp Marian Dziedziel took the best actor nod for his role as a senior citizen facing a new turn in his life in “The Fifth Season of the Year” by Sydney-based Polish helmer Jerzy Domaradzki.

The Special Jury nod went to Italo helmer Giuliano Montaldo’s economic crisis drama “The Entrepreneur.”

Significantly, the Cairo jury also recommended that the fest set up a development and post-production fund as an extension of its Cairo Connection initiative, “to have ready access to quality works from the region,” and also urged organizers to appoint an independent selection committee.

“The jury firmly believes that the reborn Cairo International Film Festival will have an important role to play in the cultural life of the aspiring new free Egypt,” it said in a statement.

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