Teemu Nikki’s Venice and Antalya winner “The Blind Man Who Did Not Want to See Titanic” won the Golden Star for best film at the 5th El Gouna Film Festival in Egypt, which wrapped Friday. The award carries a cash prize of $50,000.
The film’s lead Petri Poikolainen won best actor, while Maya Vanderbeque, the young star of “Playground,” won best actress.
Egyptian filmmaker Omar El Zohairy’s Cannes winner “Feathers,” which also won the Variety award at El Gouna earlier, won the prize for best Arab narrative film, which has a cash prize of $20,000.
Directors Aleksey Chupov and Natasha Merkulova’s “Captain Volkonogov Escaped” won the Netpac award and Bronze Star in the narrative category, with $15,000 cash for the latter award.
Michel Franco’s “Sundown” won silver and a cash prize of $25,000 in the narrative competition, while Aditya Vikram Sengupta’s “Once Upon a Time in Calcutta” earned a special mention from Netpac.
Mounia Akl’s “Costa Brava, Lebanon” won the FIPRESCI award for debut film and the Green Star award and $10,000 for tackling environmental issues.
The Golden Star, with a cash prize of $30,000, in the feature documentary competition was won by Renato Borrayo Serrano’s “Life of Ivanna.”
Directors Svetlana Rodina and Laurent Stoop’s “Ostrov – Lost Island” won the Cinema for Humanity audience award, which carries $20,000 in cash and the Silver Star for documentary film, which comes with $15,000 cash.
The El Gouna Bronze Star for documentary film, with a cash prize of $7,500, went to “Sabaya” by Hogir Hirori.
Ali El Arabi’s “Captains of Za’atari” won best best Arab documentary film, which carries a cash award of $10,000.
Andrey Natotsinsky’s “Katia” won the Golden Star and $15,000 for best short, while Ahmed Abdelsalam’s “CAI-BER” won best Arab short, which has a cash prize of $5,000.
The El Gouna Silver Star for short film, and $7,500, went to “Holy Son” by Aliosha Massine, while the Bronze Star
and $4,000 went to “On Solid Ground” by Jela Hasler.
The Khaled Bichara Award for Egyptian independent filmmakers went to “Adel” by Dina Eleleimy.
In all, the festival disbursed $244,000 in cash prizes across various categories.
The highlight of the ceremony, held at the Festival Plaza, which caught fire on the eve of the festival, was when festival patron Samih Sawiris invited firefighters and behind the scenes staff who worked overnight to make the opening ceremony a reality onto the stage. They received a standing ovation.
The career achievement award for iconic Palestinian actor Mohammad Bakri was received in his absence by a representative. Bakri had decided not to attend following the deportation of his compatriot Said Zagha.
After the awards, winners, nominees and festival guests, numbering over a 1,000, partied into the night. For many, the main topic of discussion was which destination would be their next stop on the fall festival calendar.