Feathers by Egyptian director Omar El Zohairy has won the Best Arab Narrative Film at the closing ceremony of this year’s El Gouna Film Festival.
The stirring dark comedy tells the challenging story of a woman’s struggles after her browbeat husband gets transformed into a chicken through a faulty magic trick. Feathers has been the subject of many conversations online, with some praising its plot, and some criticizing its alleged negative portrayal of Egypt.
The fifth edition of the festival witnessed a competition between 16 feature films, 23 short fiction films, and 15 documentaries. Bagging the Golden Star Awards winners were Finnish director Teemu Nikki’s The Blind Man Who Did Not Want to See Titanic, Life of Ivanna by Renato Borrayo Serrano, and Katia from Russian director Andrey Natotcinskiy.
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As for Feathers, it was a collaborative effort between El Zohairy and Egyptian screenwriter Ahmed Amer. El Zohairy’s first feature film, Feathers received its award by Rob Allyn, president of the Feature Narrative jury, who described the film as a director’s “dystopian vision” of a global dilemma, paying regards to the distinct imagery and sound design which intensified the message.
Upon receiving the award, El Zohairy expressed his gratitude to all those who supported him including the Egyptian Ministry of Culture, and proudly shared that he is an Egyptian director, who graduated from the Higher Institute of Cinema in Cairo.
Previously winning the Audience Award at the Venice Film Festival, The Blind Man Who Did Not Want to See Titanic received the title of the Feature Narrative Golden Star winner. The film romantically narrates the story of a blind man in a wheelchair, who falls in love with a woman he’s never met and plans to go on a journey to visit her. Other winners include Egyptian director Ali El Arabi who won the Best Arab Documentary award for his film Captains of Za’atari, starring two Syrian refugees from the Za’atari camp in Jordan, Mahmoud, and Fawzi, who were invited to attend the festival with the filmmakers.