CIFF Deputy Director Ahmed Shawky reveals outcomes of 41st session of the festival

Honouring actress Menna Shalaby was too late

40 thousand viewers of the session’s films

550 foreign guests, 150 of whom came at their own expense to follow the festival activities

Cairo International Film Festival does not fear competition

Cairo International Film Festival refuses to pay for stars to pass on the red carpet

Deputy Director of the Cairo International Film Festival (CIFF) critic Ahmed Shawky, one of the architects of the success of the 41st festival, we find him close to all the guests of the session, speaking at all symposiums hosted by the festival, and his main concern is to find a formulation for the development of film work and the exchange of ideas on the film industry.

About the harvest of the 41st session of the festival we had this interview with him:

 What is your assessment of the 41st festival?

The session was successful at all levels, especially at the public level, where the number of attendees of the festival doubled, where the session witnessed the follow-up of 40 thousand viewers compared to last year, which reached 28 thousand viewers, a figure that arouses pride, and proves that we are on the right track, especially as this year we attracted students Universities and schools through the development of propaganda plans for them, and the turnout continued to the last day of the session.

– What plan did you draw before starting the festival?

     We have developed several strategic plans months before the session, including the promotion of the festival through social media, in addition to the proximity of universities and schools, and we were keen to host international films in its premiere, and films won the Oscars and films considered first class, in addition to the screening of the most successful films on the public level and this was the beginning that was established for the success of this session.

– How many films have participated in this course?

Over 10 days, nearly 40,000 film viewers and fans have been keen to watch more than 150 films from 63 countries screened at this international festival, with the screening of “The Irishman” of Martin Scorsese’s Irish, which was screened again freely.

– What are the elements that qualified Menna Shalabi to win the Faten Hamama Award for Excellence?

The Faten Hamama Award is an award given to artists in the middle of their careers, to actors who were able to achieve remarkable achievements at an early age. It is an appreciation and encouragement award that we tell the artist you are on the right track, and we hope that you will continue on the same path. Ahmed Helmy, Hend Sabry, Maged El Kedwany, Nelly Karim, Hisham Nazih, and the selection of Menna Shalaby is natural, but from my point of view it is too late because she is a pioneer in independent cinema and the most important Egyptian actresses and most influential in the world of different and independent cinema.

– What is the secret of the absence of international stars from the red carpet, unlike the past sessions of the festival?

I do not think there is an absence of stars, but there is an absence of stars who ask for payment to attend the Cairo Festival, which is concerned with form and beauty, but mainly interested in content, we, at the Cairo Festival completely refuse to pay for the stars to attend and participate in events.. The number of foreign guests reached 550, 150 including those who came at their own expense to follow the activities of the festival. During the last session, under the leadership of Mohamed Hefzi, we were able to host directors and filmmakers who received Oscars from the most prominent international festivals. The exchange of ideas and experiences, this was our primary goal.

– What are the festivals that you consider real competition for the Cairo International Film Festival?

Every big and serious Arab festival is a friend and competitor of the Cairo festival. There is no hostility between us and any festival. On the contrary, festivals such as Carthage, El Gouna, , Red Sea and Oman are all festivals competing in a positive way. The presence of all these Arab festivals encourages more to make films and exchange ideas in order to promote this industry. We at Cairo Festival have great confidence in our team and believe that our festival is ready for any competition and is not afraid of it because of its long and honourable history.

– What is your assessment of the film industry in Egypt?

The film industry in Egypt is experiencing a strange period, it is in a state of fluctuation, sometimes comes a period in which many interesting films participate in large festivals and win honourable prizes, but this year there are no films competing for awards and unfortunately there is only the film “Marian Khoury” , he won the public award, so the film industry in Egypt is not going upward, but fluctuating and I think it is related to the production sectors and others.

– What are the hints you have noticed this year and will not be repeated in the next sessions?

These are small details that may not be noticed by the guest.

Born in 1984, Ahmed Shawky holds a pharmacy and media degree, studied cinema at the Jesuit School in Cairo, and made his first film  ” Sandouk El Dounia” in 2010.

TunisianMonitorOnline (by TMO correspondent Douha Essaafi)

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