×

Mexico’s ‘I’m No Longer Here,’ Tunisia’s ‘A Son’ Win at Cairo Film Festival

“I’m No Longer Here,” a drama about immigration and identity by young Mexican director Fernando Frias, was the big winner at the Cairo Film Festival, which wrapped Friday.

“I’m No Longer Here,” which turns on a 17-year-old urban tribe leader forced by conflict with a cartel to leave Mexico for Queens, scooped Cairo’s top prize, the Golden Pyramid, for best film. It also took acting honors for newcomer Juan Daniel Garcia Trevino, who plays Ulises Sampiero, leader of Los Terkos, who are known for their dance moves and extravagant hairstyles. In Queens, Ulises winds up either sparking hostility from other immigrants or being treated as a fashion curiosity. The pic, which launched internationally in Cairo, is generating buzz after recently scoring the top prize at the Morelia fest in Mexico.

The Cairo jury, headed by Oscar-winning U.S. writer-director Stephen Gaghan (“Syriana”), awarded the Silver Pyramid to “Ghost Tropic” by Belgian helmer Bas Devos, in which a lady of Maghrebi origins meanders through multicultural Brussels one night after oversleeping on the subway.

Two films tied for the Bronze Pyramid for best first or second work: Chinese directorial duo Zhang Chong and Zhang Bo’s “The Fourth Wall,” a portrayal of two damaged people with a shared past who live in alternate fantasy worlds that eventually overlap, and Czech director Michal Hogenauer’s stylish psychological thriller, “A Certain Kind of Silence.”

Popular on Variety

The screenplay award went to Palestinian writer-director Najwa Najjar for her divorce amid diaspora drama “Between Heaven and Earth,” which world-premiered in the international competition section.

The prize for best actress went to Filipina film and TV star and social media queen Judy Ann Santos for her unglamorous role as the anguished mother of a sick child in melodrama “Mindanao,” the latest from prolific Filipino director Brillante Mendoza. “Mindanao” also scored the prize for best artistic contribution.

Egyptian director Marianne Khoury’s competition entry “Let’s Talk,” a doc interweaving archive material with cinematic conversations between four women from different generations in the family of late great Egyptian master Youssef Chahine, won the audience award voted by festival goers.

The big winner in Cairo’s separate Arab competition strand was Tunisian director Mahdi Barsaoui’s debut feature, “A Son,” about a father whose world is shattered when his son is injured in a terrorist shootout. “A Son” scored a rare double whammy, scooping both the Best Arab Film prize and the Special Jury Award. The pic has been making a splash since launching from Venice, where it the won best actor in the Horizons section for Sami Bouajila, who plays the father.

Iraqi director Mohanad Hayal’s drama “Haifa Street,” which is set in one of the most dangerous locations during the civil war in Baghdad in 2006, also scored two prizes: the award for best Arab director and acting honors for Ali Thamer, who plays a sniper. The film recently won a prize in Busan.

Documentary “Beirut Terminus” by Elie Kamal, a UAE-Lebanese co-production that uses a discarded railway to explore notions of borders and identity in perpetually turbulent Lebanon, won the award for nonfiction film.

Cairo’s 41st edition was the second headed by Egyptian producer Mohamed Hefzy, whose reboot puts Arab cinema and the region’s industry back at the center of the festival, reviving its role as a Middle East hub. The festival has historically been the Arab world’s preeminent cinema event as the oldest such event in the Middle East and North Africa and the only one in the region granted “category A” status by the International Federation of Film Producers Associations.

Significantly, Cairo became the first film event last month in the Arab world to sign the 5050×2020 gender-equality pledge that other festivals, such as Cannes and Venice, have also signed.

Cairo also marked another milestone this year: The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences has designated it an Oscar-qualifying fest in the live-action and animated short film categories.

More Film

  • Mickey Rourke

    Mickey Rourke Joins Religious Drama 'Man of God'

    Pure Flix/Quality Flix has picked up international sales rights to religious drama “Man of God,” starring Mickey Rourke, Aris Servetalis and Alexander Petrov. The rights are for sale at the Berlin Film Festival. “Man of God,” directed and written by Yelena Popovic. Producers are Alexandros Potter and Yelena Popovic through their company Simeon Entertainment and [...]

  • Young Hunter

    'Young Hunter': Film Review

    Director-writer Marco Berger has been playing with same-sex seduction since his debut, “Plan B,” frequently pitching one confident gay man against a more closeted or curious conquest. Eleven years after that first feature, his latest, “Young Hunter,” continues to riff on the same theme, here exhibiting parallels with the entrapment scenario of 2011’s “Absent” in [...]

  • Kumail Nanjiani Stuber

    Film News Roundup: Kumail Nanjiani Boards Political Thriller 'The Independent'

    In today’s film news roundup, Kumail Nanjiani has been cast as a journalist, Daisy Ridley boards Imax’s “Asteroid Hunters,” “Best Summer Ever” leads off a festival, Shelley Duvall gets an honor and “Dark Harvest” lands at MGM. PROJECT LAUNCH Kumail Nanjiani will star in the political thriller “The Independent,” which is being introduced to buyers [...]

  • Balloon

    'Balloon': Film Review

    On paper, the plight of a pair of families fleeing 1979’s East Germany in a hot air balloon sounds like fabricated fodder for a spy novel. But as implausible as it sounds, this “The Mysterious Island”-esque grand escape from Deutschland’s then walled-in, oppressive slice really did happen. And nearly four decades after being the subject [...]

  • J.D. Dillard Star Wars

    New 'Star Wars' Movie in Development With 'Sleight' Director, 'Luke Cage' Writer

    Lucasfilm is developing a new “Star Wars” feature film with “Sleight” writer-director J.D. Dillard and “Luke Cage” writer Matt Owens, Variety has confirmed. The project is still in its very early stages, and all further details — characters, location, time period within the “Star Wars” creative galaxy — remain a mystery. That includes whether Dillard would [...]

  • Foster Boy

    Shaquille O'Neal on Why Foster Care Is the Great Untold Story

    It’s no secret that I have suffered some losses lately. For better or worse, my pain and grief are public. But I understand the opportunity to face the pain, learn from it, and model a behavior. I wouldn’t want it any other way. But there are hundreds of thousands of kids across the U.S. — [...]

  • Emerald Run

    'Emerald Run': Film Review

    “Emerald Run” is one of the weirdest hodgepodges to make its way to theater screens and digital platforms in quite some time. Unfortunately, oddness is just about the only thing this muddled little indie has going for it. Despite the game efforts of lead actor David Chokachi and attractive lensing by DP Michael Caradonna, the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content