CAIRO – 19 October 2022: The almost yearly partnership of Cairo International Film Festival (CIFF) and the U.S. embassy this year is marked by special cooperation as Egypt prepares to host COP27 in November: integrating environmental consciousness into the film industry.
Holly Morris, an award-winning director, writer, and producer, and Michael Kovnat, a former executive producer with the National Geographic channel, will participate in a panel discussion on eco-friendly filmmaking after screening three documentaries on the impact of climate change on local communities. Their participation comes as part of a partnership with Film Independent, an NGO that supports independent filmmakers, and the U.S. embassy.
Not only is Egypt hosting COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, but it is also among the countries most affected by climate change as in water scarcity, high temperature, erosion, and saltwater intrusion into fresh water. The repercussions of the phenomenon will most certainly affect communities and livelihood across Egypt and highlighting that in film would bring about more climate awareness. It would also inspire filmmakers in the Arab world to look at their own climate issues.
“Egypt is not just Om el-Dunia [mother of the world], it’s like the Om of the filmmaking industry too. It’s a really important place,” U.S. Embassy Minister Counselor for Public Affairs, Lauren Lovelace, told Egypt Today at the CIFF press conference Tuesday.
“I do hope that we have some industry crossover where we could see some partnerships happening, more Egyptians thinking about how to partner with Americans in their filmmaking process, whether its art, direction, film design, cinematography, costume design, acting…” Lovelace said.
Veteran actor Hussein Fahmy opened CIFF press conference on Tuesday and thanked the embassy for its cooperation “as always.” Himself a Fulbright alumnus who studied film in the U.S., Fahmy said the U.S. scholarship institution will have a booth at CIFF to introduce opportunities to young filmmakers.
Lauren Lovelace and Hussein Fahmy - Photo courtesy of the U.S. embassy
According to Lovelace, the American embassy is seeking more film study for Egyptians in the U.S, where the top filmmaking institutions in the world are based.
“To any Egyptian film students, we would love to have you come and study in the United States,” she said.
More from the U.S., prominent director Steven Spielberg’s The Fabelmans will be screened at CIFF, months before being out in theaters. Meanwhile, Film Independent will honor two winners of Cairo Film Connection in fiction and documentary by giving them virtual consultations with U.S. filmmakers.
American cinematographer Irvin Liu, whose film Dealing With Dad won the Audience Award for Best Feature at the 2022 LA Asian Film Festival, will deliver a 5 day-workshop at CIFF focusing on inclusion and diversity. The workshop, which includes 15 Egyptian participants, will also tackle “the art of storytelling from a cinematography perspective and the role of cinematography in amplifying social issues,” according to a U.S. embassy statement.
Lovelace added that there is U.S. cooperation with Egyptian director Marianne Khouri on short films, and that the embassy will help bring screens of films throughout different parts of Egypt that do not normally have access to international film.
She also mentioned Reem al-Adl, an Egyptian costume designer who this year is a jury member at CIFF, as one of the industry members the U.S. embassy worked with in support of costume design workshops.
Further, Sherief Elkatsha, an Egyptian-American, will put forth his film Far from the Nile at CIFF.
This comes at an interesting time where an Egyptian director like Mohamed Diab directed Marvel’s Moon Knight, which also featured the first female Egyptian superhero Layla El-Fouly, and we see a younger generation of originally Egyptian actors in Hollywood, such as Ramy Malek, Ramy Youssef, and Mena Masoud.