Demonstrating the Middle East’s diverse range of films, El Gouna Film Festival returns with its fifth edition on October 14, for the second time during the Covid-19 pandemic. This nine-day festival is expected to bestow awards totaling more than US $224,000, under five different competitions including the Feature Narrative, Feature Documentary, Short Film, Cinema for Humanity, and the Green Star Award.
Aiming to connect filmmakers coming from different countries, El Gouna Film Festival joins more than 75 international and regional feature narratives under the same roof and applauds cross-cultural cooperation in storytelling. Along the lines of the Feature Narrative Competition, 16 films narrate several stories that brush over plots ranging from the transformation of an authoritative father to a chicken (Feathers by Omar Zohairy), to challenging life choices a 30-year-old has to make (The Worst Person in the World by Joachim Trier).
Films that have been recognized in international festivals (Venice, Cannes, Berlin) are also a part of the lineup. Amira by Egyptian director Mohamed Diab and Costa Brava by the Lebanese director Mounia Akl, have both premiered at the Venice film festival last month. Casablanca Beats by Moroccan director Nabil Ayouch competed in Palmes d’Or at Cannes, and The Sea Ahead by Lebanese director Ely Dagher won the Short Film Palmes d’Or in the year 2015. Dialed in the portrayal of reality, 10 documentaries will enter the Feature Documentary competition.
CineGouna is a platform where new filmmaking talents can thrive and develop through receiving artistic and financial support. Two CineGouna alumni have the chance to compete in the Feature Documentary competition showcasing The Blue Inmates by Zeina Daccache, and Captains of Za’atari by Ali El Arabi. As for the Official Selection out of Competition, it includes international films like Animal by Liliya Timirzyanova, Full Moon by Hadi El Bagoury, One Second by Zhang Yimou.
Throughout the prestigious festival, two Arab film stars will be honored for charming the region with their roles in the industry: Egyptian actor Ahmed El Sakka and Palestinian actor and film director Mohamed Bakri.
A day before the opening, a blazing fire took El Gouna Film Festival venue by surprise and devoured a small portion of the hall. Soon enough, Civil Protection Forces were able to control the fire, but eight people required hospital treatment after inhaling the resulting smoke. The Film Festival was able to quickly recover from the incident and is planning on opening with an even stronger drive to honor the region’s leading talents in filmmaking.