Yesterday, on October 14, 2021, El Gouna Film Festival (GFF) held its 5th edition’s opening ceremony at El Gouna Conference and Culture Center (GCCC).
Hosted by TV personality Nardine Farag, the opening ceremony began at 10 p.m. preceded by an opening speech, which was followed by the presentation of a short documentary titled Five Years of GFF. The film contained an assortment of the festival’s highlights during its past four editions, including clips of its most prominent events and guests, among which were several prominent Arab and international filmmakers.
Following the film, Major General Amr Hanafy, Governor of the Red Sea Governorate, took to the stage to give his speech which commended the efforts of the Egyptian government in supporting the arts and culture, which was swiftly followed by a speech by Engineer Samih Sawiris, Founder of El Gouna, along with superstar Youssra, a member of GFF’s International Advisory Board, about the ambitions that GFF holds.
Additionally discussing his insistence on holding a music festival soon, Engineer Samih Sawiris, Founder of El Gouna, said: “Every edition of GFF is harder than the one that came before it, as we constantly seek what rejuvenates the core of our festival and makes it more special.”
Presented by Egyptian actor Sayed Ragab, the next segment of the opening ceremony presented a video tribute in remembrance of the works of stars and filmmakers who passed earlier this year, such as Samir Ghanem, Dalal Abdel Aziz, Wahid Hamed, Ezzat El Alaili, Ramses Marzouk, Moufida Tlatli, and Jean-Paul Belmondo.
In a speech following this, GFF Director Intishal Al Timimi said: “We are proud of what GFF has achieved in its previous editions and we wish that the work improves in the coming years. Additionally, we are also proud of the position we have reached and as Engineer Samih Sawiris said, the next edition of GFF will be harder because we always seek challenges to provide a different GFF edition.”
After Al Timimi’s speech, a montage video showcasing the most important works participating in GFF’s competitive sections in its 5th edition was presented. He then began introducing the juries for El Gouna Film Festival’s 5th edition, as the members of these juries, starting with the members of El Gouna Green Star Award’s jury, followed by the juries of GFF’s Short Film Competition, Feature Documentary Competition, and the Feature Narrative Competition.
Amir Ramses, Artistic Director, and Bushra Rozza, Co-Founder and Chief Operations and Foreign Relations Officer, went on stage to take a group photo with the juries and GFF Director Intishal Al Timimi.
Following this, Tunisian star Hend Sabri introduced GFF’s Career Achievement Award, which was presented to Egyptian actor Ahmed El Saka, who went on stage and received the award in addition to giving a speech.
El Saka said: “I would like to thank El Gouna Film Festival for commemorating me with this prestigious award.”
Moreover, he spoke about a group of friends who persisted in realizing their dreams of being on the big screen.
He added: “In the late 1990s, modern cinema came into being with films such as An Upper Egyptian at the American University, which was an innovation. I’m proud I was a part of that moment and I dedicate this award to Samir Ghanem and Dalal Abdel Aziz and to Onsi Sawiris, who raised three sons who have achieved the impossible. My third dedication is to my father, Salah El Saka, who taught me humility and how to relate to people no matter how famous you are. I would also like to dedicate this award to my wife, Maha Al Sagheer, and to a lady who was able of maintaining a strong household, Nadia El Sorougy, my mother. Lastly, I would like to dedicate this award to my colleagues as well.”
A short video showcasing the career of El Saka as well as his contributions to upgrading the action film genre was presented, including words of praise from exceptional directors and artists, such as Said Hamed, Amr Arafa, and Mona Zaki.
Under the guise of commemorating the great Egyptian actor Samir Ghanem, who had dearly departed on May 20, 2021, renowned actress Lebleba gave a speech about the late cinematic icon, which was followed by a video celebrating his long, illustrious artistic career.
As the ceremony drew to a close, Engineer Samih Sawiris, El Gouna Founder, and Egyptian superstar Youssra, member of GFF’s International Advisory Board, came on stage to give the final speech, in which Sawiris thanked the Ministry of Health and Population for supporting GFF during its 4th edition –an experience that international film festivals took as an example. He also commended the Red Sea Governorate, which was an essential factor of GFF’s success.
as well as announce the commencement of the 5th edition of GFF, which will run for eight days comprising of cinematic screenings for the most important international and regional films in addition to workshops, masterclasses, and special events which are moderated by a horde of the most local and international prominent industry experts.
At the end of the opening ceremony, Egyptian artist Mohamed Ramadan took to the stage to present the last segment.
GFF’s 5th edition’s activities start on October 15, 2021, including screenings of acclaimed films, such as the Finnish film The Blind Man Who Did Not Want to See Titanic by Teemu Nikki, winner of the 2021 Venice International Film Festival’s Audience Award Armani Beauty and a participant in GFF’s Feature Narrative Competition, which will be screened at Sea Cinema 1 at 3:15 p.m.
Additionally, the Moroccan film Casablanca Beats by Nabil Ayouch, which participated in the 2021 Cannes Film Festival and competed for its Palme d’Or, will be screened. The film’s red carpet will start at 5:30 p.m., with its screening taking place at 6:30 p.m. at El Gouna Conference and Culture Center (GCCC).
Commemorating the 25th anniversary of the famed Polish director Krzysztof Kieślowski’s death, the 5th edition of GFF will hold a Retrospective Exhibition displaying his life and cinematic works, curated by prestigious production designer and art director Onsi Abou Seif.
The Retrospective Exhibition for Kieślowski is set to be presented through a cinematic lens that brings the displayed works to life, with 23 framed posters from the Film Museum in Łódź that are all inspired by the director’s films. Additionally, it will incorporate original material from the established film archive the French Cinémathèque, featuring 50 photos including posters from Kieślowski’s iconic films, their filming locations, the filming process, as well as photos of the director himself.
A prominent highlight of the Retrospective Exhibition will be the screening, in loop, of a documentary film that doubles as a mosaic of the late director’s life, thoughts, and filmography, titled Krzysztof Kieślowski - I'm So-So, directed by Krzysztof Wierzbicki. The film will be screened in Sea Cinema 3 at 3:15 p.m. in addition to the Special Presentation program including four more films by Kieślowski.
Regarding the special events, a press conference for the star Ahmed El Saka, recipient of GFF’s Career Achievement Award, will be held. An Egyptian actor with a unique artistic fingerprint, El Saka painted a portrait of modern Egyptian cinema for three decades, in which he presented dozens of films, television series, and plays. It’s important to note that the press conference will be held at the Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts at 12 p.m.
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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