27 November 2021 07:51 PM

The Fifth Edition of the El Gouna Film Festival

Wednesday، 13 October 2021 - 02:20 AM

On October 14, 2021, El Gouna Film Festival (GFF) kicks off its 5th edition’s opening ceremony at El Gouna Conference and Culture Center (GCCC), with the participation of 44 countries presenting 80 films, of the most important and latest Arab and international productions.

The opening ceremony, presented by the TV and radio presenter Nardine Farag, began at 10 p.m. by an opening speech, followed by the screening of a short documentary film entitled "Five Years of El Gouna Festival", which includes the most prominent moments in the past four sessions, in addition to recorded clips of the most prominent events and guests including several prominent Arab and international filmmakers.

Following the film, Major General Amr Hanafy, Governor of the Red Sea Governorate, rose to the stage to deliver his speech in which he commended the efforts of the Egyptian government in supporting arts and culture.

This was followed by a speech by Engineer Samih Sawiris, founder of El Gouna, accompanied by artist Yousra, a member of GFF’s International Advisory Board. They, both, talked about the festival’s dreams and ambitions. Engineer Samih also mentioned his insistence on holding a music festival soon, as he said: “Every upcoming session is more difficult. It makes it even more special.”

Presented by Egyptian actor Sayed Ragab, the next segment of the opening ceremony presented a video tribute in remembrance of the works of stars and filmmakers who passed earlier this year, such as Samir Ghanem, Dalal Abdel Aziz, Wahid Hamed, Ezzat El Alaili, Ramses Marzouk, Moufida Tlatli, and Jean-Paul Belmondo.

This was followed by a speech by the director of the El Gouna Film Festival Intishal Al Timimi. He said: "We are proud of what has been achieved in the previous editions, and we hope to improve the work in the coming years. We are, also, proud of the position we have reached, and as Eng. Samih said, the next session will be more difficult because we are always looking for a challenge to present a different and a fresher edition than the previous one."

Al-Tamimi's speech included the presentation of a video clip of a group of the most important works that are participating in the various competitions of the El Gouna Film Festival in its fifth edition. He, then, presented the jury of El Gouna Film Festival’s 5th edition, who took the stage in succession, starting with the jury of El Gouna Green Star Award for films concerned with the environment,  followed by the jury of Short Film Competition , then the jury of the Feature Documentary Competition, and finally the jury of the feature film competition.

After Al Timimi’s speech, director Amir Ramses, artistic director of El Gouna Film Festival, and Bushra Rozza, , co-founder and chief of operations of the festival, went on stage to take a group of photos with the juries and GFF Director Intishal Al Timimi.

Following this, the Tunisian star Hend Sabri gave an introductory speech for the the annual Career Achievement Award, which the festival gives this year in its fifth session to the Egyptian star Ahmed El-Sakka, who went on stage to receive the award and delivered a speech to the audience saying: “I would like to thank El Gouna Film Festival for commemorating me with this prestigious award.” Then he talked about a group of friends who insisted on achieving their dream of appearing on the big screen. He added saying: “In the late 1990s, the modern cinema came with films such as “Ismailia Rayeh Gay” and “Saidi in the American University”, which was a boom, and I am proud that I was part of this boom. I dedicate this award first to the star Samir Ghanem and the star Dalal Abdulaziz.My second dedication goes to Onsi Sawiris, who raised three sons who have achieved the impossible. My third dedication goes to my father, Salah al-Sakka, who taught me humilityand how to be close to people no matter how famous I reached, while the fourth dedication goes to to my wife Maha al-Sagheer, and the fifth gift to a lady who was able to establish a solid and strong house, Nadia Al-Srouji, my mother.Finally,, my last dedication goes to all my colleagues.”

Then a short video was screened showing El-Sakka's career and his contributions to the development of action films, which included words of praise from distinguished directors and artists, including Saeed Hamed, Amr Arafa and Mona Zaki.

Within the framework of celebrating the great Egyptian artist Samir Ghanem, who passed away on the 20th of May this year, the great artist Lebleba gave a speech about the late cinematic icon, followed by the presentation of a ceremonial clip that included dance performances for the most famous works of the late artist Samir Ghanem in celebratation of his long artistic career.

As the ceremony drew to a close, Eng. Samih Sawiris, founder of El Gouna, and the great artist Yousra, a member of GFF’s International Advisory Board, went on stage to give a closing speech in which Eng. Samih thanked the Ministry of Health, which helped the festival to hold its fourth session, an experience that was followed by international festivals. He also thanked the Governor of the Red Sea, who was one of the main reasons for the success of the festival.

At the end of the opening ceremony, Egyptian artist Mohamed Ramadan went on stage to present the last segment.

The Festival’s Program

The festival’s program consists of the three official competitions (Feature Narrative Competition, Feature Documentary Competition and Short Film Competition), the Official Selection out of Competition and Special Presentations.


GFF increased the value of awards bestowed this year up to US $224.000, along with trophies to the winners of the competitive sections.

This year, GFF introduces another regular annual feature of its awards. Jury members will consider inspirational films across all sections that share knowledge and/or raise awareness on issues related to the environment, ecology or wildlife, as well as their sustainability and importance. The winning film will receive El Gouna Green Star, certificate and a cash prize of US $10,000.

CineGouna platform continues its role in supporting young filmmakers and offers prizes of $250,000 for the winning projects in the development stage and the winning films in the post-production stage. This is through two programmes, the first of which is CineGouna Springboard and CineGouna Bridge, which provide opportunities for filmmakers to learn and participate through material and in-kind prizes, filmmaking workshops, panel discussions and round table talks, in addition to lectures by film industry experts.

This year, the festival will screen 37 feature narrative films in all sections of the fifth session, in addition to 16 feature narrative films in the official competition, and another two within animation films. It, also, screens 15 feature documentary films including 10 in the official competition. It, also, shows 3 feature films for a world premiere.

The competing films represent 36 countries, namely Jordan, Spain, Australia, Estonia, Germany, the United Arab Emirates, Ukraine, Italy, Brazil, Belgium, Poland, Czech Republic, Georgia, Denmark, Russia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, China, France, Finland, Croatia, Cambodia, Costa Rica, Latvia, Lebanon, Hungary, Egypt, Morocco, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Norway, India, Netherlands, USA , Greece.

The festival also screens 23 short films, and two animation films, and presents 5 short films as world premieres, and two films as international premieres for the first time. The competing films represent 22 countries: Argentina, Jordan, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Czech Republic, Tunisia, Russia, Singapore Switzerland, China, France, Palestine, Canada, Kosovo, Hungary, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, the United States of America, and Greece.

The special presentations program includes 6 films from 6 countries: Germany, Poland, Denmark, Switzerland, France and Norway.

The total number of countries participating in the festival is 44, while the world and international premieres in this session are 10.

List of international films participating in the festival:

From the official competition of the 2021 Venice International Film Festival, two French films are participating in GFF: Stéphane Brizé's Another World and Audrey Diwan's Happening. The first film is about Philippe, a senior executive, who feels trapped as he is unable to satisfy the contradictory demands of his superiors. Also, his wife is leaving him and Philippe is reaching a breaking point. The second one recounts a young woman’s physical and emotional battle to obtain an illegal abortion in a desperate race against the clock. A powerful and gripping drama set in a society that condemns female desire and sexual liberation, Happening had its world premiere in the official competition of the 2021 Venice Film Festival, where it received the Golden Lion, the ARCA Cinema Giovani Award, the Brian Award and the FIPRESCI Award.

Also from the 2021 Venice International Film Festival official competition, “Sundown” for the Mexican director Michel Franco is participating. The film is about Alice and Neil Bennett, who are the core of a wealthy British family and they are on vacation in Acapulco with younger members Colin and Alexa, until a distant emergency cuts their trip short. When one relative disrupts the family’s tight-knit order, surprising tensions rise to the fore.

From Finland, “The Blind Man Who Did Not Want to See Titanic” byTeemu Nikki. It is about Jaakko, who is blind and disabled, tied to his wheelchair. He loves Sirpa. Living far away, they have never met in person, but they meet every day over the phone. When Sirpa is overwhelmed by shocking news, Jaakko decides to go to her immediately despite never having left him home because of his condition. The film received the Audience Award at the 2021 Venice Film Festival.

Another film participating in GFF is Compartment No.6 (Finland, Germany, Estonia, Russia) by Juho Kuosmanen. It is about A young Finnish woman escapes an enigmatic love affair in Moscow by boarding a train to the arctic port of Murmansk. Forced to share the long ride and a tiny sleeping car with a Russian miner, the unexpected encounter leads the occupants of Compartment no. 6 to face the truth about their own yearning for human connection. The film won the Grand Prix at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival.

From China “Ine Second” by the famous Chinese director Zhang Yimou. The film is about a nameless prisoner, who escapes from a labor camp, in China during the Cultural Revolution, risking everything to look for a stolen film reel, in which his long-lost daughter appears. On his way, he encounters a scruffy orphan girl haunted by her own terrible loss. The film had its premiere at the 2021 San Sebastian Film Festival.

From Croatia, “Murina” by Antoneta Alamat Kusijanović. The film is about tensions that rise between restless teenager Julija and her oppressive father Ante when an old family friend arrives at their Croatian island home. As Ante attempts to broker a life-changing deal, their tranquil yet isolated existence leaves Julija wanting more from this influential visitor, who provides a taste of liberation over a weekend laid bare to desire and violence.

Another addition from the 2021 Cannes Film Festival is Kira Kovalenko’s “Unclenching the Fists”, which tells the story of a young woman who struggles to break free from the chokehold of her family in a former mining town in North Ossetia.

Also participating in GFF is Jacques Audiard’s most recent film, Les Olympiades- Paris, 13th District, which tells the story of Emilie, who meets Camille, who is attracted to Nora, who crosses the path of Amber. The three girls and a boy redefine what modern love is. Paris, 13th District had its world premiere at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival.

From Hungary “Natural Light” by Dénes Nagy (Hungary, France, Germany, Latvia). The film is about Stván Semetka, a simple farmer drafted in the Hungarian army, finds himself witness to a mass murder. The plot follows the man during the three days leading up to the massacre, slowly familiarizing the audience with who he is and how he makes decisions. The film won the Silver Bear for Best Director at the 2021 Berlin International Film Festival.

Finally, from Germany“ I Am Your Man “ by the German actress and director Maria Schrader, which tells the story of Alma, who is a scientist at the famous Pergamon Museum in Berlin. In order to obtain research funds for her work, she is persuaded to participate in an extraordinary study, where, for three weeks, she has to live with a humanoid robot tailored to her character and needs, whose artificial intelligence is designed to be the perfect life partner for her. 

List of Arab films participating in the festival:

Seven Egyptian films are selected to screen during the 5th edition of El Gouna Film Festival. These are:

Feathers/ Feature Narrative Competition

Directed by: Omar El Zohairy

The 2021 Cannes Critics’ Week Grand Prix and FIPRESCI Award winner. It tells the story of Sami, an authoritative Egyptian father, who was turned into a chicken by a magician’s trick at his 6-year-old’s birthday party. The mysterious transformation sets his family off to a tragically funny adventure of self-discovery to survive without the patriarch.

Amira/ Feature Narrative Competition

Directed by: Mohamed Diab 

Starring Saba Mubarak, Ali Suleiman, and Tara Abboud, the film follows Amira, a bubbly 17-year-old who has grown-up believing she was conceived with the smuggled sperm of her imprisoned father. Her sense of identity is shattered when another attempt to conceive a child with her father’s smuggled sperm reveals he is infertile.

Captains of Za’atari/ Feature Documentary Competition

Directed by: Ali El Arabi 

Winner of three awards at the 2019 CineGouna Platform this documentary tells the story of  Mahmoud and Fawzi, who have been living in the Za’atari Refugee Camp in Jordan for five years. Despite their dire circumstances, they focus their energy on their first love — soccer. When Aspire Academy arrives at Za’atari to pick players for an international tournament, the two friends get the opportunity of their lifetime.

Back Home/ Feature Documentary Competition

Directed by: Sara Shazli

The film tells the story of Sara’s father is nearly 80 years old and is full of life. When Sara’s plans turn upside down due to the global pandemic, she finds herself stuck in her childhood home with her parents after living abroad for ten years. As they spend months together in lockdown, Sara feels the need to capture the precious moments spent with her father on film. For the first time, Sara’s return to Egypt feels right.

Full Moon/ Official Selection out of Competition

Directed by: Hadi El Bagoury

Starring an ensemble cast including Khaled El Nabawy, ShereenReda, Ghada Adel, Ahmed El Fishawy, Yasmin Raeis, Ahmed Malek, Ahmed Hatem, AsmaaAbulyazeid, May El Ghety and Khaled Anwar; the film takes place on a lunar night where the societal beliefs that kill love are unveiled through five different love stories.

Khadiga/ Short Film Competition

Directed by: Morad Mostafa

The film tells the story of  Khadiga,  a young mother living alone with her baby, after her husband  left to work in a remote city. On an ordinary day, she goes through the streets of Cairo to make a few visits where she feels uncomfortable with the surroundings.

Cai-Ber/ Short Film Competition

Directed by: Ahmed Abd El Salam

The film tells the story of Nour, 29, who after numerous failed attempts to escape the status quo of her generation’s depression, secretly arranges to flee her homeland. Hours before her departure, she embarks on a journey of struggles with a patriarchal society and a fight within to keep her hidden secret.

From Lebanon, three films are participating in the Feature Narrative Competition. These are:

“The Sea Ahead” by Ely Dagher, which is Chosen as the best project in development during the 3rd of CineGouna Platform. It tells the story of a young woman who makes her way back to her parents’ house in the middle of the night, leaving a bad experience behind. Feeling cornered, her anxieties resurface, leading her to find solace in another part of the Beirut life she had forsaken.

“Costa Brava” by Mounia Akl, which tells the story of the free-spirited Badri family, who have escaped the toxic pollution of Beirut by seeking refuge in the utopic mountain home they have built. But unexpectedly, a garbage landfill is built right outside their fence, bringing the trash and corruption of a whole country to their doorstep. As the trash rises, so do tensions between leaving or resisting—threatening their idyllic home and family unity. The film had its world premiere at the 2021 Venice Film Festival.

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