Cairo, Egypt, May 10, 2017 – Celebrating the past, present, and future of cinema, the new Festival aims to celebrate and foster cross-cultural exchanges and understanding across Egypt, the Middle East, and the rest of the world. Following months of careful preparation, the Founding Committee of El Gouna Film Festival, officially launches the main direction which will shape the first edition of the Festival, which will take place from the 22nd and the 29th of September, 2017, in the Red Sea’s El Gouna Resort-town. The prestigious event is the result of collective efforts supported by Egyptian businessmen and corporate sponsors, who wished to start a festival that could offer an exceptional festival experience by creating a new platform where filmmakers could express their ideas and engage with industry experts and representatives of the nation and international media and audiences.
The foundation of this project was instated through an initiative led by Engineer Naguib Sawiris, actress and producer Bushra Rozza, in collaboration with a group of energetic young talents with Amr Mansi, international event organizer and CEO of I-Events at the forefront, in addition to Producer Kamal Zadeh. And the initiative gained strength and momentum with the support and sponsorship offered by El Gouna Founder, Engineer Samih Sawiris. Despite the fact that the event will be mainly funded through private sector sponsors, it will also be presented under the auspices of the Egyptian Ministry of Culture. The GFF team include world-class and experienced individuals, such as Intishal Al Tamimi who will act as the GFF’s festival director given his extensive experience in conceiving and implementing similar large-scaled projects.
Commenting on the occasion, Engineer Naguib Sawiris said, “We are honoured to be announcing the launch of the El Gouna Film Festival, which aims to activate the cinematic and cultural scene in El Gouna and create the opportunity to develop, encourage and support all contemporary forms of creative expression in the MENA region, especially for the younger generations. Seeing that the Festival is created by youth, for the youth, our efforts will focus on highlighting the work of the new generation of players in the field of Egyptian and Arabic cinema. All established members of society share the responsibility of protecting and reviving the Egyptian Cinema Heritage which dates back to 1896, with the production of over 4,000 films since 1918, a contribution of 75% to total Arabic movies production. Seeing that the world is suffering from serious conflicts across different regions, art has always been a means of uniting people; thus, the chosen theme for the GFF is “Cinema for Humanity”, as we aspire that this Festival will have a positive impact on our society at large and will position us as leaders in the film-making industry.”
The Festival will present a wide selection of the latest films from around the world, and will host established and emerging filmmakers. The program includes 3 official competitions; Feature Narratives Film, Feature Documentary Films, and Short Films. It will also feature an official selection out of competition as well as a special program. In addition to the important competition prizes, El Gouna Film Festival will also honour three outstanding figures from the world of Egyptian, Arab and International Cinema.
The Call for Entries is scheduled to open on May 23, 2017. It will be announced along with details of Rules and Regulations through the Festival’s website (www.elgounafilmfestival.com). The deadline for submission will be July 31, 2017. The selected films will represent a balanced mix of acclaimed films alongside cinematic works that challenge the norms and explore new and alternative forms of cinematic expression. The selection process will ensure that the films presented have high artistic value that will expand new grounds of mutual understanding and coexistence.
The Festival is not only determined to accomplish its primary mission of curating a diverse variety of film screenings, for film loving audiences, but will also provide young talented minds with the CineGouna Platform, a creative and business hub which will incubate two initiatives; CineGouna Springboard and CineGouna Bridge. CineGouna Springboard will offer a unique opportunity for Arab directors and producers with films in development and postproduction; by providing them with the necessary artistic and financial support. On the other hand, the CineGouna Bridge will be a platform for dialogue amongst different international cinematic voices and will serve as a link between filmmakers from the Arab world and their international counterparts through a series of round-tables, panels, workshops, and master-classes that will be held by experts and key players from the film industry.
“From its very first edition, the festival will be an unmissable annual rendezvous for film professionals and film lovers from Egypt the Arabic countries and indeed from all over the world. We hope to nourish a new wave of cultural awareness that promotes mutual understanding and compassion beyond borders, which is one of the main objectives of the founders and partners of the Festival.” said Intishal Al Timimi, Festival Director.
Chosen to take place in the luxurious town of El Gouna, the Festival will ultimately celebrate and revive the Egyptian cinema heritage, while promoting tourism in the country. El Gouna is built on 10 km of beach with 17 spectacular hotels; the town of over 15,000 residents spreads across islands and lagoons. Boasting superb infrastructure and excellent hospitality services, El Gouna is the ideal retreat to host this event and welcome important Egyptian, Arab and international delegates. In addition to El Gouna’s already functioning cinemas, the organizers announced that a new large open-air auditorium with a wide screen will host the opening and closing ceremonies and gala film screenings. There will also be two indoor and another outdoor cinemas, with at least two of which will hold cinema programmes throughout the year, serving as a hub for the arts and cinema.
Founder of El Gouna, Engineer Samih Sawiris, said, “We have worked very hard to establish El Gouna as a modern, high-end resort town, which enjoys numerous qualities that are attractive to locals and tourists alike. We are delighted to bring another creative venture to our community, as we have always believed in the importance of art and culture in the nurturing of society. Through hosting a prestigious Film Festival as such, that will impact artists and participants on a global scale, we hope that people realize that Egypt is still a safe haven that offers a multitude of services and unique experiences.”
The Festival proposes to host a number of social activities, dinners and cocktail events alongside the official functions to entertain and celebrate El Gouna destination.