Cairo Film Festival begins 42nd edition despite pandemic

84 films from 48 countries are participating in this year’s festival.

Thursday 03/12/2020
Egyptian actress Mona Zaki poses for the cameras during the opening ceremony of the 42nd Cairo International Film Festival (CIFF) at Cairo Opera House. (Reuters)
Egyptian actress Mona Zaki poses for the cameras during the opening ceremony of the 42nd Cairo International Film Festival (CIFF) at Cairo Opera House. (Reuters)

CAIRO - The 42nd Cairo International Film Festival kicked off Wednesday with strict precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, including transferring the event’s opening ceremony from the Grand Theatre’s closed hall to an open-air hall inside the Egyptian Opera House.

The director of the festival, producer and writer Mohamed Hefzy, confirmed in a television interview broadcast prior to the opening that the festival was committed to implementing all preventive measures during its screenings, seminars and workshops.

Egyptian Culture Minister Enas Abdel-Dayem walks during the opening ceremony of the 42nd Cairo International Film Festival (CIFF) at Cairo Opera House. (Reuters)
Egyptian Culture Minister Enas Abdel-Dayem walks during the opening ceremony of the 42nd Cairo International Film Festival (CIFF) at Cairo Opera House. (Reuters)

Hefzy pointed out that there were less films participating in the festival this year because of a global decline in film production due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, ten Egyptian films are featured in the various festival competitions, which he said is a “great achievement.”

Eighty-four films from 48 countries are participating in this year’s festival. Among them are “Curfew” by Amir Ramses, “About them” by Islam Islam al-Azzazi and the documentary “Long Live Captain” by Mai Zayed.

Egyptian director Nesrine El Zayat is participating in the Arab Film Horizons competition with the documentary film “On the Fence.”

Also participating in this edition are award-winning films “There is no evil” by Iranian director Mohammad Rasulov, winner of the Golden Bear award at the Berlin International Film Festival, “Exile” directed by Kosovo-born director Visar Morina, winner of the “Heart of Sarajevo” award at the Sarajevo Festival, and “Nomadland” by Chloe Zhao, winner of the Golden Lion award at the Venice Film Festival.

According to the festival’s organisers, the Golden Pyramid Lifetime Achievement Award will be awarded to Egyptian writer Wahid Hamed and British writer and director Christopher Hampton. The festival will award the Faten Hamama Award for Excellence to Egyptian actress Mona Zaki.

Egyptian actor Sherif Mounir waves for the cameras during the opening ceremony of the 42nd Cairo International Film Festival (CIFF) at Cairo Opera House. (Reuters)
Egyptian actor Sherif Mounir waves for the cameras during the opening ceremony of the 42nd Cairo International Film Festival (CIFF) at Cairo Opera House. (Reuters)

The international competition’s jury is chaired by Russian filmmaker Alexander Sokurov. The festival is also celebrating the centenary of the birth of Italian director Federico Fellini by screening some of his productions and organising a photo exhibit featuring scenes from his films.