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Bille August to Head Jury of Revamped Cairo Film Festival (EXCLUSIVE)

Oscar-winning Danish director Bille August will preside over the jury of the Cairo Film Festival, which is being revamped by Egyptian producer Mohamed Hefzy.

August, who has accomplished the rare feat of winning two Cannes Palme d’Or awards, is best known for “Pelle the Conqueror” – which scored the foreign-language Oscar, the Palme d’Or and a Golden Globe – and for “The House of the Spirits,” “Smilla’s Sense Of Snow,” and “Les Miserables.” He is currently in pre-production on Gianni Versace biopic “The Emperor of Dreams.”

August will be returning to Cairo after attending the fest with “Les Miserables” in 1998.

Hefzy, who was appointed president of the Cairo festival in March, praised August in a statement as “one of the eminent names in world cinema,” adding that he was honored to have the director serve as jury president in what he called a “historic 40th edition” of the event. 

Hefzy, whose Film Clinic shingle has produced a steady output of well-received, often edgy Egyptian titles such as Mohamed Diab’s thriller “Clash” and recent Cannes standout “Yomeddine,” is the youngest president in the Cairo fest’s history and the first chosen from within the country’s film industry ranks.

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Since taking the reins he has reinstated the fest’s Cairo Film Connection co-production platform, which had been scrapped, and is also making efforts to raise the event’s international profile by sending the message “that we care about cinema from all over the world,” he told Variety in a recent interview.

The Cairo fest, the oldest in the Arab and African worlds, has suffered in recent years in part because of the country’s post-revolution turbulence, which frightened some foreign guests from attending, said Hefzy, who added that security fears have subsided and tourism is picking up.

Artistic director Youssef Cherif Rizkallah said the festival would be announcing several other internationally known film personalities as jury members for the fest’s upcoming edition, which will run Nov. 20-29.

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