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Bille August To Head Cairo Film Festival Jury, Omar Sharif To Be Honored

Oscar-winning Danish Director Bille August (“Pelle the Conqueror”) will head the main jury of the 37th Cairo Film Festival which will pay tribute to the memory of the late great Omar Sharif and also honor popular Egyptian actor Hussein Fahmy with a lifetime achievement award.

August (pictured) a double Palme d’Or winner, also known for “Smilla’s Sense Of Snow,” “The House of Spirits,” and “Les Miserables,” will bring his latest film, “Silent Heart,” to the Cairo fest which will run November 11-20.

The tribute to Omar Sharif, who died aged 83 in July, will take place November 12 and involve onstage testimonials from several international and Egyptian artists who worked with the first Arab actor to achieve worldwide fame.

Besides classics Sharif starred in, such as “Lawrence of Arabia,” the Cairo fest will also screen lesser known gems such as a restored version of French director Jacques Baratier’s 1958 romancer “Goha,” featuring one of Sharif’s earlier roles which he plays opposite Claudia Cardinale.

Hussein Fahmy, who has appeared in more than one hundred Egyptian movies and plenty of TV shows, will receive the Faten Hamama Lifetime Achievement Award, named after the Egyptian icon who died in January. Hamama and was married to Sharif for nearly twenty years.

A UCLA graduate, Fahmy has served as United Nations Development Programme Goodwill Ambassador to the Arab region and North Africa and is also a former president of the Cairo fest.

The Cairo fest is 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 toppers at Cairo were installed by Egypt’s culture minister after the resignation late last year of esteemed veteran critic Samir Farid who cited health reasons for stepping down.

Farid had successfully revamped the oldest film fest in the Middle East and Africa, giving it a new configuration, following a hiatus and downfall due to post-revolutionary turbulence. The new team, which has plenty of previous experience, is talking its cue from his internationally well-received 36th edition. But they have also reinstated the Cairo Film Connection co-production platform market component for Arab filmmakers which Farid had scrapped.

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.

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