El Gouna Film Festival Unveils Its 5th Edition’s Final Details in its Press Conference

Wed Oct 13, 2021


El Gouna, October 13, 2021: After containing a small fire that broke out in El Gouna Conference and Culture Center (Festival Plaza)El Gouna Film Festival (GFF) continued its preparations for its 5th edition, which culminated in a press conference that was held today in an open-air theater that was specifically prepared for the press conference held in the resort town of El Gouna. In this press conference, GFF unveiled its final details for its 5th edition, which is scheduled to commence tomorrow, October 14, and will continue to October 22, 2021.

The press conference was attended by Engineer Naguib Sawiris, Founder of El Gouna Film Festival, Engineer Samih Sawiris, El Gouna Founder, Engineer Omar El Hamamsy, CEO of Orascom Development Holding (ODH), Intishal Al Timimi, GFF Director, Bushra Rozza, Co-Founder and Chief Operations and Foreign Relations Officer, Amal El Masri, Executive Director, Amr Mansi, Co-founder, and Youssra, a member of GFF’s International Advisory Board, in addition to the attendance of Amir Ramses, Artistic Director, Tarek Kamel, CEO of O-West and Tamer Dweidar, CEO of Makadi Heights. 

It's important to note that a number of GFF’s confirmed jury members, such as Egyptian actresses Arwa Gouda and Menna Shalaby in addition to Egyptian director and jury president of the Short Film Competition Kamla Abou Zekry, director-producer Tamer Ashry as well as Mexican producer and jury president of the Feature Documentary Competition Martha Sosa, were present as well.

Discussing the fire that occurred at the Festival Plaza, El Gouna Founder Engineer Samih Sawiris said: “We’re thankful that the fire didn’t damage the main parts of the Festival Plaza. GFF’s team members handled the situation well.”

Extending his gratitude to the security forces and the Red Sea Governorate’s civil protective forces and mentioned that he visited the hospital to check on the state of the injured parties and found them all safe and sound with minor injuries, Sawiris also added: “Tomorrow, the attendees will not know where the fire occurred.”

A short film displaying the past four years of El Gouna Film Festival was presented, showcasing a number of its unique moments as well as an assortment of facts and figures about GFFCineGouna Platform (CGP), and the Cinema for Humanity Audience Award.

A short film displaying the past four years of El Gouna Film Festival was presented, showcasing a number of its unique moments as well as an assortment of facts and figures about GFFCineGouna Platform (CGP), and the Cinema for Humanity Audience Award.

Engineer Naguib Sawiris, Founder of El Gouna Film Festival, said this about the inception of GFF: “Our foundation is divine assistance in creating GFF’s team. Bushra Rozza, Co-Founder and Chief Operations and Foreign Relations Officer, and Kamal Zadeh, Co-founder and General Manager, met with me and suggested that we hold a film festival in El Gouna. I suggested bringing in Amr Mansi, Co-founder, to the organizational aspect, since he had great successes in holding squash tournaments before. Following this, Bushra arranged a meeting with Intishal Al Timimi, GFF Director, in Cannes. During the meeting, I found a hidden depth behind his external calm as well as a passion for cinema that we share. Then, I suggested the idea to Samih Sawiris, El Gouna Founder, and he liked it. I can now say that the first edition of GFF was the best year of my life.”

Speaking about the inception of GFF and how the resort town of El Gouna adopted it, Enigneer Samih Sawiris, Founder of El Gouna, said: “When I came here 32 years ago, I wasn’t capable of imagining anything existing in El Gouna. Passion was my main drive in building the town of El Gouna as well as the festival. Our second factor of success was the admiration people hold for us. Today, when the fire broke out, I found support from the civil protective forces as well as the security forces and the Red Sea Governorate in addition to the support given to us by the Ministry of Health and Population and the Ministry of Culture. There are several established film festivals that toke note of our experience during GFF’s 4th edition and followed it.

Egyptian superstar Youssra, member of GFF’s International Advisory Board, added: “GFF participated in increasing the diversity in the realm of film festivals. It inspired a lot of people, especially foreigners, and introduced a different side of Egypt, full of freedom and beauty and rich in touristic and cultural scenery.”

Engineer Omar El Hamamsy, CEO of Orascom Development Holding (ODH), said: “This year, most of GFF’s activities will be held in GCCC, which is an open-air center, making the screenings as well as other activities safe and enjoyable at the same time. Additionally, we held an agreement with the Ministry of Health and Population to vaccinate all GFF guests and attendees. It’s important to also note that all of the workers in El Gouna and at GFF are vaccinated. We thank the Ministry of Health and Population for its collaboration with us.”

Amr Mansi, Co-founder, said: “I would like to thank the International Advisory Board, especially the Egyptian superstar Youssra, who has supported GFF since it first came into being, as well as all our sponsors, partners, and ON TV, who have aided us since the very beginning.

Speaking about the participation of Arab films in GFF’s 5th editionIntishal Al Timimi, GFF Director, said: “There’s a lot of care towards Arab films in the region as well as a strong competition over the inclusion of films in any Arab film festival. Over the years, we have been successful in monopolizing the finest and most prominent Arab cinematic productions. This year, we broke a new record with seven Egyptian films participating in GFF while other film festival face challenges in securing that number. We constantly aim to make GFF a hub for Arab cinema.

Discussing the important role of the Ministry of Health and Population, Engineer Samih Sawiris, Founder of El Gouna, added: “Without the efforts of the Ministry of Health and Population, it wouldn’t have been possible to hold the 4th edition of GFF last year. This year, too, it has provided numerous services, including vaccinations and ambulances as well as PCR tests. The support of the Ministry of Health made the rumors circulating about GFF, in regards to COVID-19, difficult to spread.”

Unveiling the details of the 5th edition of CineGouna PlatformBushra Rozza, Co-Founder and Chief Operations and Foreign Relations Officer, said: “Thank you to all attendees, GFF team members, partners, sponsors, and press and media outlets. GFF Director Intishal Al Timimi insisted since the beginning to integrate CineGouna Platform, which includes the programs CineGouna SpringBoard that supports incomplete films and projects, and CineGouna Bridge that communicates with different organizations and holds high-caliber cinematic workshops, panels, and masterclasses. The most important aspect of CGP is its continuance throughout the year, with the inclusion of an annual program with O West, which will create a continuous contribution to the cultural realm throughout the year.”

Regarding GFF’s film lineup, Amir Ramses, Artistic Director, said: “GFF’s lineup includes an immense number of award-winning films, including Venice Film Festival’s Golden Lion Winner Happening as well as Compartment no. 6, winner of Cannes Film Festival’s Grand Prize, in addition to a number of important cinematic productions. Proves our vigilance in selecting quality films is the addition of a new film to our lineup two days ago: Mamoru Hasoda’s Belle, the winner of Locarno Film Festival’s Locarno Kids Award.”

Amal El Masri, Executive Director, said: “I would like to discuss an initiative that adds to Engineer Naguib Sawiris’s Cinema for Humanity idea. This year, we created the It’s Not the End initiative, in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture, to aid environmental sustainability. 10 fantastic designers will rework cinematic waste into works of art that will be auctioned off. These are the types of initiatives that make Cinema for Humanity more than just a slogan.”

Engineer Naguib Sawiris, GFF Founder, added: “I think that future editions will be more feasible, thanks to Intishal Al Timimi, GFF Director, who is widely known in international cinematic circles. It’s important to get rid of the superficial views about GFF, which only occur because of the extreme attention given to appearances. Securing the most recent cinematic works in the world is difficult as is convincing their filmmakers to attend. If it wasn’t for COVID-19, we would have hosted several international stars. We have proved ourselves over the past few years; now the important part is innovation for the upcoming ones.”

GFF Director Intishal Al Timimi announced the inauguration of El Gouna Green Star Award, which will be awarded for films that focus on environmental issues, adding that it this was the goal of Engineer Samih Sawiris, first and foremost. The jury for El Gouna Green Star Award will include Egyptian actress Arwa Gouda.

Following this, the floor was given to press outlets. One journalist asked about the dispute that happened between Intishal Al Timimi, GFF Director, and Egyptian star Youssra.

Answering this question, Engineer Naguib Sawiris, GFF Founder, said: “Intishal Al Timimi simply chose unfortunate wording but he did not mean to offend Youssra, who we especially cherish.”

Intishal Al Timimi, GFF Director, said: “My relationship with Youssra goes back to many years, with many things bringing us together. Among these things are discussions surrounding art, cinema, and life. I misspoke and I apologize for my statement, which did not mean any harm.”

Following his statement, Intishal Al Timimi, GFF Director, embraced the Egyptian star Youssra, prompting applause from the attendees.

Bushra Rozza, Co-Founder and Chief Operations and Foreign Relations Officer, added: “I would like to also say that there will be panels, especially the Depicting Ancient Egypt in Film panel, and the Breathe, Talk, Perform: A Take on the Psychological Well-being of Actor panel, in collaboration with Medfest Egypt, as well as the Costume Design Workshop Co-instructed by Deborah Landis and Reem El Adl and a panel about the Egyptian films that impacted society. There will also be a masterclass by renowned American director Darren Aronofsky in addition to the Special Presentation and the Retrospective Exhibition curated by renowned production designer Onsi Abou Seif about the famed Polish director Krzysztof Kieślowski.”

Following this, the live videos showing the Festival Plaza during the reconstruction process were shown in addition to the announcement of an initiative that will take place in O West Cairo throughout the year, in which a selection of GFF films will be screened.

Egyptian director Inas ElDeghedy commented: “I have known the Sawiris brothers for a long time. They have started from scratch and today I see them in the same way: admired by the people and remaining joyful. El Gouna Film Festival is part of how they enjoy life and how they display their love for their country. They are among the people who have exerted the most effort to serve Egypt, with GFF being a part of them.”

In response to the questions regarding the cancellation of the opening film, Amir Ramses, Artistic Director, said: “The opening film was cancelled because of our cautiousness in screening films in the most optimum conditions and our respect for the filmmakers. Picking a film for the opening ceremony could cause unfairness to one of the other films, which isn’t what we desire. This year, we do not have an opening film, but we have a film that will initiative the start of red carpet screenings.

The 5th edition of GFF is Brought to You by Orascom Development and it’s destinations O West, Makadi Heights, El Gouna and its latest neighborhood Ancient Hills, Principal Media Partner ON TV, Telecom Partner Orange, Media Partner Euro News, and Official Transportation Partner Abou Ghaly Motors – Sixt, Official Ticketing Partner Ticket Egypt, In Partnership With UAM.

Official Beverage Pepsi, In Partnership With KWAI, Official Automotive Mercedes-Benz, Official Carrier Egypt Air, Exclusive Beauty Partner Mohamed Al Sagheer, Sponsored by SAMSUNG Life Style TV The Frame, Official Bank Banque Misr.

Additionally, GFF is Supported by Teoxane, Exclusive Men’s Fashion Partner Concrete, Hygiene Partner Fine, Supported by Minly and Weyyak, In Collaboration With Gemini Africa, Wunderman Thompson, and talabatGFF is Organized Under the Auspices of the Ministry of Health & Population, the Ministry of Culture, and the Egyptian Film Centre.


El Gouna Film Festival

One of the leading festivals in the MENA region, GFF aims to showcase a wide variety of films for a passionate and knowledgeable audience, while fostering better communication between cultures through the art of filmmaking. Its goal is to connect filmmakers from the region with their international counterparts in the spirit of cooperation and cultural exchange. The festival is committed to the discovery of new voices and strives to be a catalyst for the development of cinema in the Arab world, especially through its industry hub CineGouna Platform.

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