File: Lebleba and Hussein Fahmy during the opening ceremony of the 44th edition of Cairo International Film Festival.
The 44th edition of the Cairo International Film Festival (CIFF) kicked off on November 13.
A total of 54 countries are represented by their films in the festival. Around 100 films will be screened including 79 features, 18 shorts, and 10 classics. 30 films will see their world and international premieres at the festival, while 57 will have their regional premieres for the Middle East and North Africa.
The opening ceremony started with a glamourous dancing show on a medley of Samir Sabry’s songs to commemorate the late veteran actor who passed away last May.
Egyptian superstar and CIFF Hussein Fahmy said that Sabry was a very dear friend. ‘’ He used to call me Brad Bitt and I used to call him Kevin Costner” Fahmy said.
Fahmy added that Sabry and was an example that Egyptian cinema has a rich history of comedy, musicals, action, and thrillers.
Fahmy said that he is honoured to head the CIFF team in this edition, and thanked the festival partners as well as Minister of Culture Neveen Elkilany who presented support for the festival.
Fahmy expressed his love of Egypt’s classic black and white films and announced that part of the festival’s role is to preserve Egyptian classics which are Egypt’s treasures. ‘’ CIFF restored two films from the classics of Egyptian cinema who are ‘’Yawmeyat Na’eb Fe El Aryaf’’ and ‘’ Ogneya Ala El Mamar’’.
The festival coincides with the United Nations’ global climate summit COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh. “CIFF will start to be eco-friendly festival to raise awareness regarding climate change, we have already started reducing paper publications, plastic products, and using electric cars’’ Fahmy added.
The 44th edition also paid tribute to actress Maha Abu Ouf, director Ali Abdel Khaleq, and actor Hesham Selim, all of whom passed away this year.
Egyptian superstar Nelly Karim took the stage to give Faten Hamama Award of Excellence to her lifetime friend and favourite director Kamla Abouzekri.
‘’ She discovered new areas in my acting performance, her extraordinary talent and great work enabled her to make landmarks in the television drama and film industries. She has won the hearts of audiences across the region’’ Karim said describing Abouzekri.
Karim expressed her pride to speak at the podium of the Cairo Opera House, saying that she is lcky because she is giving an award which is close to her heart because it bears the name of the one and only Faten Hamama Award and will be given to a director who is close to her.
“She was able to involve us in the stories she directed in a complete and honest way,” Karim said referring to Abouzekri.
The director revealed that she was thrilled to be receiving an award carrying the name of the “Lady of the Egyptian and Arab cinemas.”
“I am grateful to all the artists whom I met during my journey since I was 16 years old, to the artists who believed in me and those who didn’t and those who I learned from.” She also thanked the talented directors which have supported her, such as the late actor Ahmed Zaki, and directors Mohamed Khan, Atef El-Tayeb, and Nader Galal.
legendary Hungarian filmmaker Béla Tarr described CIFF as “universal language of cinema’’ after receiving the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award this year. “If we think of the 100 most important films in the history of world cinema, they will include Tarr’s work’’ Festival Director Amir Ramses said.
The renowned Hungarian filmmaker used to tackle humanitarian issues in his films using a one of a kind cinematic theory.
Béla Tarr said in his speech that he is proud of his presence at CIFF noting that he knows that everyone understands him through cinema, even if many people around the world do not necessarily understand the Hungarian language. He noted that cinema is the language of feelings that everyone communicates with despite different religions and cultures, emphasising: “We are all human.”
The festival also renownegranted lifetime acheivment award to Egyptian actress Lebleba. ‘’ Lebleba debuted her acting career at the age of 7” CIFF head Hussein Fahmy said.
Lebleba told the audience that the 13th of November is a special date for her as it is her birthday as well as the date that she was honoured by CIFF. “When my mom started giving birth to me, she was in the cinema house, and I was almost delivered in the cinema” Lebleba said on CIFF stage.
The opening ceremony came to an end with the screening of this year’s opening film ‘’The Fabelmans’’ by Steven Spielberg.