On Sunday evening, the opening ceremony of the 44th edition of Cairo International Film Festival (CIFF) took place, in the presence of the Egyptian Minister of Culture, Dr. Nevine Al-Kilani, CIFF’s chairman and president, actor Hussein Fahmy, CIFF’s artistic director, Amir Ramses, and a huge number of stars, filmmakers, and media professionals from the cinema world. The event took place inside the Main Hall of the Cairo Opera House and then continued well into the night at a party held on the grounds of a private Golf Club, in the exclusive Uptown Cairo development.
Hussein Fahmy kicked off the festivities by expressing his joy in becoming once again the President of CIFF, after many years of absence. Fahmy highlighted the significance of the festival and the role it plays for cinema lovers. In fact, the event this year feels particularly couture and we love the fact that many Egyptian film lovers and filmmakers are coming together on the grounds of the Opera House complex to conduct masterclasses, present their films and be on both sides of the cameras and the spotlights.
TV personality Jasmine Taha Zaki was the presenter of the opening ceremony. After a video clip of the songs of the late artist Samir Sabri was presented, in recognition of his extensive artistic career, Hussein Fahmy shared his own memories with the late Sabri. The ever classy Fahmy also thanked the sponsors of the 44th edition of the festival.
His introduction was followed by the Minister of Culture, Dr. Nevine Al-Kilani, who joined Fahmy on stage to officially declare the inauguration of the 44th edition of the festival.
Then a short film on the works of director Kamla Abou Zekri was presented, showcasing her work in both cinema and television. Actress Nelly Karim handed Abou Zekri the “Faten Hamama Excellence Award” and was the right person to do it, as she is an essential partner in the success of the director's dramas. In her acceptance speech, Abou Zekri thanked everyone who supported her throughout her artistic career, which she started at the age of 16, emphasizing that standing on the stage of CIFF to be honored has been one of her lifetime dreams.
CIFF’s director, Amir Ramses came up on stage to present the iconic Hungarian filmmaker Béla Tarr, a special guest of the festival, and showed a short film with glimpses of his life. Tarr expressed his gratefulness for being honored at CIFF, which many consider as the most prestigious film festival in the Middle East. It is certainly the longest lasting one, taking place year after year without breaks or hiatus.
Fahmy then announced the honoring of veteran artist Lebleba, who received on Sunday the CIFF Golden Pyramid for Lifetime Achievement Award. The CIFF President mentioned in his intro speech that Lebleba is one of those exceptional actresses who has presented multiple works, all of which have taken up a special place in the minds, and hearts of fans. Fahmy proclaimed that she deserves to be honored, for she has dedicated her life to art. November 13th also marked the eve of Lebleba's birthday and so fans and attendees got to wish the iconic Egyptian star an early happy birthday.
Following the ceremony, the "film" part of the Cairo Film Festival event took place, with the MENA premiere of Steven Spielberg's The Fabelmans, which we reviewed on MIME.
The International Competition Jury head this year, Japanese director Naomi Kawase (whom we ran into in the elevator this morning and found absolutely stunning up-close) then expressed her pleasure in being a part of this 44th edition of CIFF. Kawase also highlighted the idea that she is interested with cultural exchanges in the land of ancient history, Egypt.
The Cairo International Film Festival runs through November 22nd. For more info, check out their website.