The Cairo International Film Festival (CIFF) wrapped up its 42nd edition giving its Golden Pyramid Award for Best Film prize to British film Limbo directed by Ben Sharrock. Receiving the award was Egyptian actor Amir El-Masry.
“During the film, we faced many challenges. None of which are as tough as the challenges that refugees face around the world,” El-Masry said.
The Silver Pyramid, Special Jury Award, for Best Director was given to Ivan I. Tverdovskiy for his film Conference. The Bronze Pyramid Award for Best First or Second Work went to the director May Zayed for her documentary film Lift Like a Girl. Zayed scooped two other prizes.
Zayed dedicated her film and the awards to Egyptian women who invade and excel in previously male-dominated professions and activities.
Naguib Mahfouz Award for Best Screenplay went to 50 or Two Whales Meet on the Beach by Mexican director and screenwriter Jorge Cuchi. The Best Actor Award went to Julian Vergov for his role in German Lessons.
Meanwhile, the Best Actress Award was given to two outstanding artists: Ilham Shaheen in Curfew by director Amir Ramses and Natalya Potapova for her role in Conference by director Ivan I. Tverdovskiy.
Curfew is an Egyptian film starring Shaheen as Fatin, a woman newly released from a lengthy prison sentence. When a nationwide curfew forces her daughter, Layla, to take her in for the night, the truth behind Fatin’s sentencing slowly comes to light. The film, written and directed by Amir Ramses, stars Shaheen, Amina Khalil, Ahmed Magdy, Arefa Abdul Rasoul Mahmoud El-Leithy, and Ahmed Hatem with the Palestinian actor Kamel El-Basha, with a special appearance for the director Khairy Beshara. The film is produced by Safielden Mahmoud, Baho Bakhsh, Sally Wally, Moataz Abdul Wahab and Sherif Fathy.
The Henry Barakat Award for Best Artistic Contribution went to Limbo for British director Ben Sharrock.
The main competition jury gave special mention to Palestinian film Gaza Mon Amour, describing it as a beacon to Palestinian cinema.
The Egyptian documentary Lift Like a Girl directed by Mayye Zayed won the $ 10,000 Isis Award, presented by the Arab Women Projects Fund, for the best Egyptian film highlighting the economic and social role of women
As for the award for the best film dealing with human trafficking, amounting to EGP 5,000 is presented by the National Committee for Combating Illegal Immigration and Human Trafficking, it went to Along The Sea by Fujimoto Akio. The film was screened in the festival as part of the International Panorama Section, for the first time in the Middle East and North Africa, produced by Japan and Vietnam. It revolves around three girls who move from Vietnam to Japan in search of job opportunities and a better life, but illegally. One of them is exposed to a difficult and painful crisis.
The Best Arab Film Award ($10,000) was presented to two films which were screened in the festival’s three main competitions: the International Competition or the New Arab Horizons Competition, and the Critics Week. The first half of the award went Lebanese film We Are From There by Wissam Tanios, while the second went to Gaza Mon Amour by Tarzan and Arab Nasser.
Accepting the award, Tanios said that it was an honour to receive an award at this critical time.
As for Youssef Cherif Rizkallah Award (Audience Award) which amounts to $20,000, it was given to Lift Like a Girl. Director Mayye Zayed vowed to dedicate the money of the award to develop and renovate the area where the female weightlifters train in Alexandria.
The FIPRESCI Award went to Limbo by Ben Sharrock, which follows four asylum seekers who are staying on a remote island in Scotland, and taking cultural awareness classes while awaiting the processing of their refugee requests. The award was received by Egyptian actor Amir El-Masry who played the main character in the film.
The Horizons of New Arab Cinema Competition Awards which included different Arab films from this year brought to the CIFF audience a rich collection of projects from different directors. The Saad Eldin Wahba Award for Best Arabic Film, which is awarded to the director, went to Roy Arida for Under The Concrete. Arida said that this award is his first and that he will never forget this moment.
He also added that despite living in Paris and currently being in Cairo, he is always thinking of Beirut and Lebanon.
The Salah Abu Seif Award for Best Artistic Contribution went to The Tambour of Retribution by director Abdulaziz Al Shalahi. The Best Non-Fiction film Award went to We Are from There by Wissam Tanios who said that his project would not have been completed if it had not been for the journeys of his two protagonists.
As for the Best Acting performance Award, it went to Faisal Al-Dokhi in The Tambour of Retribution,
The jury also gave a Special Mention to the Moroccan film The Fall of Apple Trees by director Mohamed Mouftakir.
As for, the International Critics’ Week Competition Awards which gathers the first and second film of directors from all over the world, the Shadi Abdel Salam Award for Best Film, awarded to The Best Is Yet to Come by Jing Wang. The Fathy Farag Award for Best Artistic Contribution went to Roger Hesp for his film Gold.
Although the Cinema of Tomorrow Competition is only seven years old, it has developed during these years to become more mature and regarded as a prestigious destination for short film directors around the world, and among the film audience in Egypt as well.
The Youssef Chahine Award for Best Short Film in the Cinema of Tomorrow competition ($5,000) presented by WatchIt digital Platform went to Isabel by Egyptian director Sara Shazly.
A Special Jury Award went to the short film The Game by the Roman Hodel. While a special mention was given to The Girls Who Burned The Night by Sara Mesfer.
The ceremony was hosted by TV presenter Jasmine Taha Zaki who saluted all the festival workers for their efforts during this exceptional edition.
Festival director Mohamed Hefzy thanked the ministries of culture and health for their role in supporting the staff of the festival in the day to day objectives.
“2020 will be remembered as the year of the pandemic but also it is a year of the challenges of determination. And I was lucky to work with people who are aimed to cope with the virus and the restrictions it puts on us,” Hefzy added.
He dedicated the 42nd edition of the festival to the souls of the artists that passed away during the last year including George Sedhom, Hassan Hosni, and Shwikar.
Above 30,000 tickets were sold this year despite the ongoing restrictions that limit filmgoers to attend films. In addition to this, the festival contained an exhibition, several masterclasses and lectures bringing a professional and educational side to the festival.
“More than 30,000 tickets at this time is a success. I thank all the audience and the staff of the festival,” Hefzy said adding he also extended his thanks to the censorship committee who watched and allowed all the films to be screened.
During the festival, several filmgoers complained that tickets to the most recommended films were sold out. Regarding this issue, Hefzy said that this issue was due to the fact health restrictions entailed that only 50% of the cinema halls should be occupied. This limited the presence of the audience. “We only have five screening halls in the Cairo Opera House. That is why we could not screen more films and repeat the films in other halls,” Hefzy added.
The success of the 42nd edition of the Cairo Film Festival lies in its very physical existence as it is one of the very few cinematic international events that were able to take place during this year as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Thousands attended the festival each day, some from the early morning to the late screenings. The festival saw many people following their passion for watching films. Despite the many challenges and hiccups through the festival, the audience managed to browse and make difficult choices through nine days in choosing between 90 films from around 40 countries.