The first El Gouna Film Festival, scheduled for September, has received strong shows of international support since its announcement in May, including from important movie industry figures at the Cannes Film Festival, according to a press release.
“El Gouna Team was greeted with the warmest wishes and congratulatory messages from the most important members of the film festival world,” read the press release after Cannes.
Brainchild of Egypt’s billionaire Naguib Sawiris, the festival will be held in El-Gouna, a tourist resort on Egypt’s Red Sea coast, developed and owned by Samih Sawiris and Orascom Hotels and Development.
Naguib Sawiris is the chairman of Weather Investments’s parent company and chairman of Orascom Telecom Media and Technology Holding S.A.E.
In the press release, Sawiris said that El Gouna Film Festival “aims to activate the cinematic and cultural scene in El Gouna and create the opportunity to develop, encourage and support all contemporary forms of creative expression in the MENA region, especially for the younger generations. Seeing that the Festival is created by youth, for the youth, our efforts will focus on highlighting the work of the new generation of players in the field of Egyptian and Arabic cinema.”
He added that the theme “Cinema for Humanity” responds to the festival’s aspiration to have a positive impact on society at large.
While working on the festival’s promotion and organisation, Naguib Sawiris and the festival team reached out to the Cannes Film Festival, where they met the representatives of various other film festivals and film organisations.
“The mission of the El Gouna Festival wasn’t only to promote the festival and its sections and highlight its plans,” the press release stated, but also to assess the various programmes and features of the Cannes Film Festival, including out-of-competition programmes and films in parallel sections, such as Directors Fortnight and Critics Week.
Scheduled to run between 22 and 29 September 2017, the El Gouna festival aims to be “an unmissable annual rendezvous for film professionals and film lovers from Egypt the Arabic countries and indeed from all over the world,” said Intishal El-Timimi, the festival’s director.
“We hope to nourish a new wave of cultural awareness that promotes mutual understanding and compassion beyond borders, which is one of the main objectives of the founders and partners of the festival,” El-Timimi said.
The program will include three official competitions: Feature Narrative Films; Feature Documentary Films; and Short Films. The winners will take home El Gouna Golden, Silver and Bronze Stars.
There will also be out-of-competition sections and special programmes.
El Gouna Film Festival will also honour three outstanding figures from the world of Egyptian, Arab and International Cinema.
The festival is accepting film submissions until 31 July 2017.