“Five years of working on El Gouna Festival program ended with my resignation yesterday to start a new journey,” Ramses posted on his Facebook page on Oct. 21. Ramses said that the reason for his resignation would remain an internal matter between him and the festival management.
“Feathers” follows a family thrown into disarray after its patriarch is accidentally turned into a chicken by a magician during a children’s birthday party. “Feathers” debuted at the Cannes Critics’ Week, where it won the grand prize and the FIPRESCI prize. Following its screening at El Gouna, several prominent local critics took issue with the portrayal of Egypt in the film, though it is still unclear whether there is a link between the film’s premiere and the director’s resignation.
The festival has declined to comment.
On Wednesday, El Zohairy won the Variety Middle East and North African Region Talent Award, given annually at the festival.
“I’m an Egyptian filmmaker. I learned here and this is also coming from my heart, and I’m so glad that everyone’s talking about my new Egyptian cinema,” El Zohairy said while accepting the award. “I’m so glad I’m taking this award in Egypt, my beloved country, our great culture, our peoples, our heritage of cinema. And I’m so honored to be part of this culture, to be part of this heritage.
“This award is for Egyptian cinema, for the new art that’s coming from Egypt, for the new generations, for the new country that is presenting itself to the world,” El Zohairy continued. “I made the film for humanity. I was sincere; it was my emotion.”
The festival, which kicked off on Oct. 14, has been one of the most eventful international confabs this fall. The day before the fest opened, a fire broke out in the main festival venue. Days later, Palestinian filmmaker Said Zagha was deported en route to El Gouna. On Tuesday, Mohammad Bakri, the Palestinian actor due to collect his career achievement award, canceled his trip in solidarity with Zagha.