Egypt’s 42nd Cairo International Film Festival kicks off amid pandemic

The ten-day Cairo International Film Festival (CIFF) held an opening ceremony on Wednesday amidst global Covid-19 pandemic challenges.

Stars of the Egyptian cinema were seen walking the red carpet rolled out in front of the Cairo Opera House where the event took place.

The ceremony was hosted by Egyptian actor and comedian Ashraf Abdel Baky in the presence of culture minister Ines Abdel Dayem, the festival’s president Mohamed Hefzy and numerous Egyptian and international guests.

Prior to the official speeches and honoring of the guests, the ceremony featured famed Egyptian singer Tamer Hosny.

The CIFF president, screenwriter and producer, Mohamed Hefzy mentioned the many problems that the cinema faced this year, starting with a complete halt of work on new productions, all the way to the closed movie theatres for several months.

It is important to mention that while the CIFF assures implementation of all precautions to avoid the spreading of Covid-19, it has also provided a free PCR test for each guest that takes part in the event’s opening ceremony.

Hefzy expressed that holding the festival and the presence of the international guests are important steps towards bringing back life to normal. He thanked the ministries of culture and tourism for extending help and support for this year’s edition.

The ceremony also included screening of a video featuring the executives from the top international festivals sharing the solidarity message with Hefzy. The support and encouragement was expressed by Thierry Frémaux, the director of the Cannes Film Festival; Carlo Chatrian, the artistic director of the Berlin International Film Festival, and Alberto Barbera, the director of the Venice International Film Festival.

Culture minister Abdel Dayem echoed Hefzy’s words stressing  the importance of arts continuity, despite the challenging circumstances, and in commitment to all precautionary measures as required by the Egyptian ministry of health and the World Health Organisation.

The ceremony then moved to giving awards to the honored figures of the festival for their contribution to enrich the art of cinema.

Actress Menna Shalaby who last year was given the Faten Hamama Excellence Award presented this year’s award to Mona Zaki on stage.

Well known actress Zaki expressed her gratitude recalling the beginning of her career, when as a very young and amateur actress she has been always attending the consecutive editions of CIFF.

During the ceremony, filmmaker Sherif Arafa who was awarded last year, honored Egypt’s renowned screenwriter Waheed Hamed and the British writer and director Christopher Hampton with the Golden Pyramid for Lifetime Achievement Award.

The opening ceremony ended with the screening of British-French film The Father co-written and directed by Florian Zeller. The film stars the Oscar, and BAFTA winner Anthony Hopkins. The film had its Middle East and Africa premiere in Cairo.

Running between 2 and 10 December, the 42nd CIFF presents a large programme with 84 films representing the latest and most important productions of 2020. Among the films, many of them have had their international or world premiere.

The screenings take place at numerous locations, including the Cairo Opera House, Hanager Theatre, Odeon Cinema 1 and 2.

Apart from screenings, the festival will hold the 3rd edition of Cairo Industry Days between 4 and 7 December, an important space for discussions, networking, meetings, workshops, masterclasses, and partnership opportunities between Arab talents and regional or international key industry professionals to further support Arab Cinema.


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