Interview with Director of 41st edition of Cairo International Film Festival: CIFF contributes to film industry

Director of the Cairo International Film Festival:

  • The budget of the Cairo Film Festival is about 40 million pounds
  • The audience is the primary goal of the festival
  • Cairo International Film Festival contributes to the film industry
  • Yes El Gouna is a strong and successful competitor
  • The festival will not pay international stars to attend it

Cairo / by Douha Essaafi

For the second year in a row, Mohamed Hefzy continues to preside over the Cairo International Film Festival, carrying a new vision, ambition and determination to overcome all obstacles that accompanied the festival in previous sessions. Mohamed Hefzy emphasized that the 41st session be dedicated to the late film critic Youssef Cherif Rizkallah to pay tribute to him.

– What are the steps that Mohamed Hefzi drew to manage a festival in the size of the Cairo Film Festival?

At the beginning of my presidency last year, I learned from the team that preceded me, headed by the late Yousuf Sharif Rizkallah, where I saw that the festival needs other experiences and lacks new thinking and new management methods such as world festivals, as it was necessary to contribute to the support of the film industry, In addition, the festival has played a role in supporting the local and Arab industry and encourages directors and production and distribution companies to participate by their films and learn about new projects that deserve production and be able to compete in the global market.

– To what extent did you succeed in changing the shape of the festival?

I think we have succeeded to a great extent in changing the outlines of the festival, in the 41st festival we presented 20 feature films for the first time in the history of the Cairo Film Festival and contributed to the production of many films, and we sought to attract and support new films and discover talents to produce a new generation capable of making their films at the same time, we offered different global productions to learn from the experiences of other countries.

– How do you see the impact of the El Gouna Festival on the Cairo Festival?

El Gouna Film Festival is considered a competitor to the Cairo festival because it can bring good films due to the huge budget allocated to it, i.e. it is a strong and successful competitor. In contrast, the Cairo Festival has a long history and has a greater public presence because the festival is held in the most populous and dynamic Cairo.

– How do you see the mass attendance for the festival?

During the previous two sessions, we were able to double the number of viewers compared to previous years, and in some films the movie theatre is full, and we were often forced to devote a second screening of the films to the wish of the audience, and this in itself is a success because the festival is mainly intended for the public.

– How much is the budget of the Cairo International Film Festival?

The festival budget is close to 40 million pounds, and the Egyptian Ministry of Culture supported the festival with 16 million pounds.

– How the films participating in the Cairo Film Festival are selected?

This year the selection was different than before. Previously, the test was done in a classic format, which is a panel of 12 critics and a journalist who watch the same film, write their opinion, and then the festival’s artistic director finally decides whether to take their opinion. It is an advisory committee only, and this system is no longer in force in the world because it causes a waste of time, the films that we receive are numerous and may exceed a thousand films so we changed the plan this year for the system of programmers in force in the whole world It depends on the division of work on five programmers working under the supervision of the director Artwork and each one of them is responsible for a particular area and thus won a lot of effort and time.

– What are the criteria that control selection?

The artistic quality is essentially then that the films are good at the level of form and narrative and others.

– We noted in this session the absence of world stars unlike previous sessions is it because of the lack of resources?

We would like to dedicate all the resources to increase the number of films involved and to host many researchers and cinema professionals in order to participate in cinema classes. We will not pay anyone to participate in the festival from the stars of the world.


Mohamed Hefzy is an award-winning Egyptian writer and film producer. He wrote and produced nearly 30 feature films.

In March 2018, Mohamed Hefzy was appointed by the Minister of Culture to lead the 40th Cairo International Film Festival, making him the youngest president in the festival’s history.

TunisianMonitorOnline (Douha Essaafi)

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