Egyptian filmmaker Amir Ramses, who has tackled controversial social and political themes including pedophilia in works such as “Curfew” and the doc “Jews of Egypt,” has been appointed director of the Cairo Film Festival

The news that Ramses will head Cairo, which is the grande dame of Arab film events, follows shortly after prominent producer Mohamed Hefzy stepped down as Cairo fest president earlier this month.

Hefzy was replaced as fest president by veteran Egyptian actor Hussein Fahmy, 81, a local megastar, who is taking over the event’s presidency for the second time after a first term between 1998 to 2001. 

Ramses, who was previously artistic director of Egypt’s El Gouna Film Festival between 2017 to 2021, is now expected to take on a broader role at Cairo extending beyond artistic director into a general manager position.

A graduate of Cairo’s Higher Institute of Cinema, Ramses cut his teeth as a film director working as an assistant to late great Egyptian auteur Youssef Chahine (“The Alexandria Trilogy”) who is among the most revered Arab filmmakers of all times.

Ramses’ directorial credits comprises the politically sensitive doc “Jews of Egypt,” about the period between 1949 to 1956, when many Egyptian Jews were forced to leave the country; “Curfew,” which takes its cue from rampant sexual child abuse in Egypt that the director wanted to denounce; and the upcoming TV series “Colors of the Sea,” for MBC’s Shahid VIP streaming platform.

Ramses in a statement said he was honored to be hired “to take on this great responsibility to work under the leadership of one of Egyptian cinema’s icons, and in the oldest leading film festival in the Arab region.” 

Ramses added that his goal is to “follow the footsteps of the previous team.” During his four-year tenure, Hefzy and his team revamped the prominent Arab fest, which had been losing luster due to political turbulence.

Hefzy’s efforts however were somewhat hampered by the arrival last year on the Arab festival scene of Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Film Festival, which moved into Cairo’s December calendar slot. A form of peaceful collaboration and co-existence was eventually achieved after Cairo moved to an earlier slot shortly ahead of the Red Sea event.

Ramses will now step in to run Cairo’s 44th edition, which is expected to take place in the second half of November to again closely precede the Red Sea event which has set Dec. 1-10 as its calendar slot. 

Cairo is the only festival in the Middle East and North Africa region to be accorded category “A” status by the International Federation of Film Producers Associations in Paris (FIAPF).