El Gouna, Egypt – October 1st, 2017 — The first edition of El Gouna Film Festival that inaugurated last week has concluded with a star-studded red carpet event that took place in the coastal city of El Gouna, on the 29th of September. International celebrities, including Forest Whitaker, Vanessa Williams and Turkish actor Halit Ergenç. The opening ceremony also witnessed the attendance of Dylan McDermott, Michael Madsen and Emmanuelle Béart along with Egyptian and Arabic stars and filmmakers. Inspirational filmmaker Oliver Stone also attended the closing ceremony.
The festival launched under the slogan “Cinema For Humanity” which was also reflected on its overall theme and activities. El Gouna Film Festival was established to underscore the role film plays in promoting cultural interaction and in fostering an awareness of different cinematic voices. It also aims to generate opportunities for development and support for all contemporary forms of creative expressions in the MENA region, especially between young generations from the Arab world and their international counterparts. This came to fruition through El Gouna Film Festival’s filmmaking business development and industry creative arm, CineGouna Platform, Springboard and Bridge.
The CineGouna Platform, a creative business hub designed to support Egyptian and Arab filmmakers, aims to nurture and support the most promising talents of Egyptian and Arab cinema. Representatives of some of the most prestigious film festivals, film institutions as well as distributors, film sales agents, major television channels and networks attended and participated in the various activities programmed by the CineGouna Platform. The platform provides a unique networking opportunity to connect Egyptian and Arab filmmakers with their international counterparts with hopes to cater to their professional development and the creation of a new wave of Middle Eastern and North African filmmakers.
On the other hand, the CineGouna Bridge offers specialized panel discussions, round-tables, workshops and masterclasses presented by filmmaking professionals from around the world in which industry issues are discussed. This includes production, content, themes and even stretches to cover humanitarian issues such as the refugee crisis and environment in film. Among the main speakers in the CineGouna Bridge Masterclasses were Forest Whitaker and Oliver Stone.
The CineGouna Springboard is the project development and co-production lab offered by El Gouna Film Festival. It offers an opportunity to aspiring filmmakers to find creative and financial support for Arab film directors and producers with films in development or works-in-progress through a wide range of meetings and interactions between Arab and international directors, producers and distributors with the aim of enhancing business opportunities for Arab cinema.
El Gouna Film Festival announced the CineGouna winning film projects yesterday and celebrated the aspiring filmmakers. The winner’s list included the Egyptian film “Two Room and a Hallway” by Sherif Elbendary that won El Gouna Film Festival’s Award worth $20,000. The Lebanese film “Costa Brava” won the New Century Award worth $10,000 and the film director Mounia Akl received the award. The Egyptian film “Abu Zaabal 1989” by Bassam Mortada won the “Creativity” Award, worth $10,000. A number of other film projects also received special cash prizes by CineGouna sponsors and partners during the ceremony.
In its inaugural edition, El Gouna Film Festival presented a selection of recent films from around the globe with over 70 entries. The rich screening programme of El Gouna Film Festival included the World Premier of two films including the documentary “Soufra” by Thomas Morgan and Egyptian feature film “Photocopy” by Tamer El Ashry.
During the closing ceremony which took place at the Marina Theatre, the winners of El Gouna Star Movie awards were announced as follows:
Feature Narrative Competition:
- El Gouna Golden Star for Narrative Film (Trophy, Certificate and USD 50,000) – Scary Mother, Ana Urushadze - Georgia, Estonia.
- El Gouna Silver Star for Narrative Film (Trophy, Certificate and USD 25,000) – The Insult, Ziad Doueiri - France, Lebanon
- El Gouna Bronze Star for Narrative Film (Trophy, Certificate and USD 15,000) – Arrhythmia, Boris Khlebnikov - Russia
- El Gouna Star for Best Arab Narrative Film (Trophy, Certificate and USD 20,000) – Photocopy, Tamer Ashry – Egypt.
- El Gouna Star for Best Actor (Trophy and Certificate) – Daniel Gimenez Cacho, Zama.
- El Gouna Star for Best Actress (Trophy and Certificate) – Nadia Kounda, Volubilis.
Feature Documentary Competition:
- El Gouna Golden Star for Documentary Film (Trophy, Certificate and USD 30,000) – I Am Not Your Negro, Raoul Peck - Belgium, France, Switzerland, U.S.A.
- El Gouna Silver Star for Documentary Film (Trophy, Certificate and USD 15,000) - Brimstone and Glory, Viktor Jakovleski - U.S.A., Mexico.
- El Gouna Bronze Star for Documentary Film (Trophy, Certificate and USD 7,500) – Mrs. Fang, Wang Bing - France, China, Germany.
- El Gouna Star for Best Arab Documentary Film (Trophy, Certificate and USD 10,000) – I have a Picture “Film No. 1001 In The Life of The Oldest Extra in The World”, Mohamed Zedan - Egypt
Short Films Competition:
- El Gouna Golden Star for Best Short Film (Trophy, Certificate and USD 15,000) – Nightshade, Shady El-Hamus - Netherlands
- El Gouna Silver Star for Short Film (Trophy, Certificate and USD 7,500) – Merry-Go-Round, Ruslan Bratov - Russia
- El Gouna Bronze Star for Short Film (Trophy, Certificate and USD 4,000) – Mama Bobo, Robin Andelfinger, Ibrahima Seydi - France, Belgium, Senegal.
- El Gouna Star for Best Arab Short Film (Trophy, Certificate and USD 5,000) – Punchline, Christophe M. Saber - Switzerland
In addition to the official awards, a special “Cinema For Humanity Audience” Award was granted to Thomas Morgan for his film “Soufra”. Film Factory also granted a special award for Best Short Film which went to Baghdad Photographer. Mentor Arabia also awarded “Soufra” The Best Arab Feature Documentary Award.
International star and humanitarian Forest Whitaker also received a Career Achievement Award from El Gouna Film Festival during the closing ceremony. The festival paid tribute to outstanding Egyptian, Arab and international leading film industry figures who have enriched the art of cinema in their own way. On the opening ceremony, Egyptian movie star Adel Imam and Lebanese film critic Ibrahim Al Aris also received a Career Achievement Awards. The honoured filmmaking icons were also chosen based on their remarkable contribution to the industry and especially for their humanitarian roles in supporting the festival’s main theme; “Cinema For Humanity”.
Commenting on this occasion Engineer Naguib Sawiris, El Gouna Film Festival Founder and businessman said: “Creating El Gouna Film Festival has been a dream for many years and I’m very happy to have seen it realize into a reality. I’m very proud of the outcome of the first edition of the festival, which celebrated film, art and culture and helped in changing the stereotypical image that the world might have of the MENA region”. Sawiris also added: “I’m particularly glad that the festival took place in the beautiful El Gouna City, which served as a perfect venue to host such an international event with all that it has to offer in the form of services, amnesties and infrastructure, in addition to its beautiful beachfront overlooking Egypt’s iconic Red Sea. We are definitely looking forward to hosting the second edition of the festival, which we now hope will help cementing its name as one of the leading film festivals worldwide”.