There are always one or two events in Cannes where it is possible to foresee a bright future for Arab cinema and rediscover old friends, while forging new allegiances. This year, the two events that provided such a forum for us were a luncheon hosted by the Red Sea International Film Festival on the Carlton Beach and a cocktail party thrown by the Cairo International Film Festival team.
Inside the Marché du Film, on the lower floor of the Palais and surrounded by the creme de la creme of Arab cinema, we were delighted to meet Egyptian superstar Hussein Fahmy, who is once again President of CIFF, the longest running film festival in the MENA region. While Fahmy is of course a cinematic legend, he is kind, elegant and very natural in person and we enjoyed a pleasant conversation with him. Fahmy interacted with the guests and smiled that luminous smile that he is famous for and which is downright infectious. The CIFF party turned out to be such a highlight of our festival experience, in large part due to his presence but also the hospitality of CIFF's new director Amir Ramses, the festival's publicist Brigitta Portier of Alibi Communications and programming director Andrew Mohsen.
The party was held inside the Arab Cinema Center pavilion, which is curated by Cairo-based one-stop-shop Mad Solutions. The Arab Cinema Center also hosted the Critics' Awards for Arab Films, and you can find all the winners just announced in this Variety piece by Nick Vivarelli.
Among those spotted at the party were Ameer Fakher Eldin, the Ukrainian-born Syrian filmmaker of The Stranger, which was the Palestinian entry to the Oscars this year. Former CIFF president Mohamed Hefzy and Daniel Ziskind, who represents both Hefzy's Film Clinic and Mad Solutions in Europe were also present, as was El Gouna Film Festival director Intishal Al Timimi along with several film critics from around the world.
This year, CIFF's 44th edition will run from November 13 to the 21 inside the Cairo Opera House complex.