Keeping in line with the 5050×2020 charter that was launched at the Cannes Film Festival in 2016, Cairo International Film Festival (CIFF) will prioritize issues of gender equality at their 42nd annual event this November. As the first festival in the Arab world to commit to equality across the board, CIFF has undertaken a parity pledge that will ensure an even presence of male and female directors at the festival.
Originating at Cannes on behalf of the Swedish Film Institute, the 5050×2020 campaign was conceived in response to the overwhelming gender disparity present within the industry. With only 26% of the films that were funded in 2011 being directed by women, the campaign was implemented in a bid to equalize representation across the sector by 2020.
Ensuring the goal of gender equality is thoroughly and comprehensively met by the festival, CIFF has committed to equal representation at every level; from members on the selection panel, to films selected as part of the showcase.
Over the last two years, CIFF has enjoyed tremendous success due to the quality of films they have chosen to showcase. Being awarded the status of ‘Oscar-qualifying festival’ by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences last year, this year’s event will see winners of the “Cinema of Tomorrow” competition go on to compete in the Short Film (Animated and Live Action) category at the Academy Awards; a particularly important opportunity given the festival’s pledge of equal representation.
While there is plenty to look forward to, there are still unprecedented challenges to overcome, according to the festival’s president, Mohamed Hefzy and artistic director, Ahmed Shawky.
Commenting on the difficulties of organizing a festival amid the aftermath of a pandemic Hefzy says that CIFF is nonetheless “committed to holding a successful and safe edition while putting high emphasis on the safety and wellbeing of its staff, as well as local and international guests.”
In a statement, Ahmed Shawky also notes that because of the virus, maintaining the success of the last two seasons will not be an easy feat. However, the advisory committee hopes circumstances will improve before November 2020.
CIFF is scheduled to run between November 19 to 28 this year and is currently accepting submissions through their website.