The Cairo Film Festival is reinstating its Cairo Film Connection co-production platform for Arab filmmakers in the latest twist in the region’s reconfigured festival landscape, following the recent elimination of the Abu Dhabi Film Festival.
Cairo’s move, announced in Cannes, comes just as the Dubai Film Festival reinstated its Dubai Film Connection, following a one-year hiatus.
The Egyptian fest’s co-prod platform, which supports projects in development and post, is also open to projects with Arab elements coming from outside the Arab world.
“What happened to Abu Dhabi is unfortunate,” Cairo’s new artistic director, prominent film critic and academic Youssef Cherif Rizkallah, told Variety. That said, he believes now that “we might have more movies to chose from.” With Abu Dhabi active on the circuit “there was a bit of difficulty for us in finding Arab movies, because it’s only natural that films funded by their Sanad fund tended to go there.”
He also noted that there is a good crop of movies out there this year.
Rizkallah and new Cairo fest president Magda Wassef, former head of the Luxor fest, were installed in February 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. He had, however, done away with Cairo Film Connection.
In addition to its international competition, Cairo will maintain the special sections introduced by Farid: Cairo’s Horizons of New Arab Cinema section, run by the Egyptian Filmmakers’ Syndicate; an International Critics’ Week run by Egypt’s film critics association; and the International New Generation of cinema competition for shorts and student films, organized by the Union of Students of the Egyptian High Cinema Institute.
Japan will be this year’s guest of honor. Tribute will be paid to late actress Fateh Hamaka, the grand dame of Egyptian cinema, who was Omar Sharif’s ex-wife, and passed away earlier this year.
The 37th edition of Cairo will run Nov. 11-20.