The 44th Cairo International Film Festival (CIFF) revealed that Working Title and Netflix’s original title The Swimmers has been selected to land its MENA premiere at this year’s edition.
Helmed by the British-Egyptian film director Sally El Husseiny, the film is based on the inspiring true story of Syrian sisters, the swimmers Sara and Yusra Mardini. The film follows the duo's journey from Syrian refugees to being chosen to be part of the Olympic swimming team in Rio De Janeiro in 2016.
The Swimmers is directed by El Husseiny, who co-wrote the film with multi-award-winning screenwriter and playwright Jack Thorne. Produced by Working Title’s Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner alongside Ali Jaafar and Tim Cole with Stephen Daldry executive producing, The Swimmers stars Manal Issa, Natalie Issa, Ahmed Malek, Kinda Alloush, Ali Suliman, and Matthias Schweighöfer. The film is slated to launch on Netflix on 23 November.
Amir Ramses, Festival Director of the Cairo International Film Festival, expressed his delight at securing the MENA premiere of the The Swimmers at CIFF. The film is one of the most anticipated titles at this year’s edition of the yearly festival held in Egypt.
He added that the film had a successful screening at Toronto, and it is undoubtedly interesting that CIFF is bringing the film as part of its film selection, which will feature several anticipated titles landing their MENA premiere in Cairo.
“It's an honour to have our Middle East premiere at Cairo International Film Festival.” said The Swimmers director Sally El Hosaini “And I’m thrilled to be returning to Cairo, the city of my childhood, to share the inspirational, true life story of the Mardini sisters”.
Egyptian film 19B by director Ahmed Abdalla has also been selected to screen within the International Competition at this year's CIFF. Abdalla is the filmmaker behind such beloved Egyptian modern classics as Microphone, Rags & Tatters and Exterior/Night.
Written and directed by Abdalla, 19B will world premiere in the festival’s prestigious competition this year. Produced by Film Clinic, the film stars Sayed Ragab, Ahmed Khaled Saleh, Nahed El Sebai, and Fadwa Abed.
19B follows the story of a doorman who leads a reclusive life in the abandoned villa that he guards. One day, he finds himself forced to face a situation with a person who lives across the street, which will mark a turning point in his life.
Hussein Fahmy, Festival President of the Cairo International Film Festival, stated: “The film was loved by the festival’s programmers, which made us keen on including it among CIFF’s lineup of films of its International Competition. We are looking forward to the screening of the film as we are positive that it will be well-received by the audiences and film critics alike.”
Ramses noted further that “Abdalla’s films have always been part of CIFF’s film lineup. His films Microphone, Heliopolis, and Décor have previously screened at Cairo International Film Festival. His latest win was scored by Exterior/Night which received the Best Actor Award [for Sherif Desouky] at the festival’s edition in 2018.”
The 44th Cairo International Film Festival will be running this year under the supervision of its Festival President, Hussein Fahmy. This year, the festival is also looking forward to granting the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award to esteemed Egyptian actress Lebleba and the Hungarian film legend Béla Tarr, as well as bestowing the Faten Hamama Award of Excellence to film and TV director Kamla Abouzekri. During the festival, Tarr will be mentoring a workshop with a number of young Egyptian filmmakers, as well as conducting an open masterclass, which will be a great opportunity for up-and-coming filmmakers to meet with the international film director.
The Cairo International Film Festival is one of the oldest-standing film festivals in the Arab world and Africa and the only festival in the Region to be accredited as an (A) festival by (FIAPF) – the International Federation of Film Producers.
The complete program and full film selection showcasing at this year’s festival will be announced soon.