The Cairo International Film Festival (Arabic: مهرجان القاهرة السينمائي الدولي) is an annual film festival held in Cairo, Egypt. It was established in 1976 and has taken place every year since its inception, except for 2011 and 2013, when it was cancelled due to budget limitations and political instability. The 38th edition will take place from November 15th, to 24th, 2016. It is the only international competitive feature film festival recognized by the FIAPF in the Arab world and Africa, as well as the oldest in this category.
In 1975, after a visit to the Berlin Film Festival the late writer-critic Kamal El Mallakh and a group of like-minded cinema critics wondered why such a world-class festival couldn't take place in Egypt. The country was still riding the crest of Egyptian cinema's golden age and contained a formidable film industry, still the biggest in the Arab world. The Cairo International Film Festival was launched in 1976.
The 1976 festival featured around 100 films from 33 countries, with 14 films from 14 different countries in competition. In an effort to celebrate the best international cinema, the Cairo International Film Festival has proven its daring and versatility year after year and continues to act as a meeting point not only for filmmakers and critics but also for writers, intellectuals and other artists.
The Egyptian Association of Film Writers and Critics headed the festival for the first seven years until 1983. In the following year, the Union of Artist's Syndicates supervised the festival, and after that point, several associations mustered their resources to run the festival. The Egyptian Association of Film Writers and Critics joined with the Ministry of Culture and the Union of Artist's Syndicates to form a joint committee in 1985 to improve the quality and financial state of the festival.
The Cairo International Film Festival moved into the 21st century with hope. Hussein Fahmy, President of Cairo Fest, told UKHotMovies.com at the turn of the Millennium: "As we are moving into the new century, we want to put away the wars and bombings and remember to laugh."
Egyptians seem grateful for the Festival, most are never exposed to films made outside of Egypt other than commercial level Hollywood productions. The Festival offers audiences the opportunity to watch films from other countries and gain insights into their customs, concerns, and cultures.
Despite behind-the-scenes interference from a severe dictatorship, Cairo's International Film Festival sometimes becomes a forum for political and cultural statements. 2003 became a major year for the festival when Egyptian film director Khaled Hagar presented his controversial 'Girls' Love.' This only Egyptian entry to the festival that year was the story of a love affair between a young Egyptian man and a Jewish woman. Hagar was strongly criticized in a country where the majority of people passionately oppose closer ties with the neighboring Jewish state.
The presidents of the CIFF festival since it was founded in 1976 to 2006 are Saad El-Din Wahba, Hussein Fahmy and Sherif El Shoubashy. In the year 2006 a new president was appointed for the festival by Egyptian culture minister Farouk Hosny, he is Egyptian actor and musician Ezzat Abou-Ouf. In 2015, Magda Wassef was appointed as the new president. In 2009 the festival celebrated the contributions of Latin America movies, and honoured the French musician Charles Aznavour, the American actor Danny Glover, and other artists.
The Cairo International Film Festival, in its annual celebration and examination of the state of cinema in the world today, has awarded many Egyptian and internationally renowned actors, actresses, and directors. Special awards, such as the Best Arab Film Award, is awarded to the most exceptional regional films of the year.Major Award Winners
International actors awarded include
Marcello Mastroianni, Catherine Deneuve, John Malkovich, Elizabeth Taylor, Morgan Freeman, Sivaji Ganesan, Samuel L. Jackson, Sophia Loren, Claudia Cardinale, Leslie Caron, Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, Gina Lollobrigida, Peter O'Toole, Omar Sharif, Ornella Muti, Victoria Abril, Shashi Kapoor, Alain Delon, Nicolas Cage, Goldie Hawn, Kurt Russell, Greta Scacchi, Julia Ormond, Mira Sorvino, Khalid Abdalla, Alicia Silverstone, Priscilla Presley, Stuart Townsend, Yolande Moreau, Christopher Lee, Irene Papas, Nora Aunor, Bud Spencer, Tom Berenger, Salma Hayek, Lucy Liu, Juliette Binoche, Dominique Blanc and Charlize Theron.Internationally renowned directors awarded include
Robert Wise, Elia Kazan, Vanessa Redgrave, Oliver Stone, Roland Joffe, Carlos Saura, Ismail Merchant, Moustapha Akkad, and Michelangelo Antonioni.Honored people and films include
The CIFF 2004 Best Arab Film Award was given to an Egyptian film, Inas El-Degheidy's 'Searching for Freedom.'
In 2005 the CIFF honored its two star guests, American actor Morgan Freeman and French actress Leslie Caron. There was a screening of American actor and director Clint Eastwood's 'Million Dollar Baby' starring Freeman, Eastwood and Hilary Swank; and American director Vincent Minnelli's classic musical 'An American in Paris' (1951), starring Caron and Gene Kelly. CIFF's other 2005 honorees included Mohamed Mounir and Hanan Turk for their roles in Lebanese director Jocelyne Saab's Dunia (2005 film), a controversial film focusing on censorship and the oppression of women in Egypt. The Syrian American producer and director Moustapha Akkad, who died in a 2005 terrorist attack in Amman, Jordan, was also honored that year. He is best remembered for 'Mohammad, Messenger of God' (1976) (U.S. 'The Message') about the early days of Islam, and for the spine-chilling 'Halloween' movie series.
The Cairo Film Connection is the latest coproduction platform aiming at maximizing networking to induce coproductions for films originating from the Arab world.
The first year, around 10 projects will be selected by a team of experts. Directors and producers will be invited to the Cairo Film Connection to pitch their projects over a period of 3 days to key industry professionals whether international or from the region.
Circulation of the selected project in Arabic and English as well as, individualized meetings scheduled in advance should maximize exposure of the projects and optimize all the participants experience.
Guests will be carefully selected to cover all stages of development of film production, funding, distribution, marketing, broadcasting, sales, festivals.
In addition to the exposure offered to film-makers during the Cairo Film Connection, the Egyptian Ministry of Culture is offering a special award amounting to $10,000.