The film festival recently confirmed that it will hold its 42nd edition from November 19 to 28, 2020.
Cairo International Film Festival (CIFF) has selected the Egyptian documentary film Lift Like a Girl by director Mayye Zayed to participate in its 42nd edition, marking the film’s premiere in the Middle East and North Africa.
Shot over the span of four years, Lift Like a Girl follows 14-year-old Zebiba, a weightlifter who is on the path to realising her dream of becoming the world champion.
Zebiba, who trains daily, is following in the footsteps of her coach’s daughter, Nahla Ramadan, Egypt’s top weightlifter and former world champion. Her coach, Captain Ramadan, spent the last 20 years training young girls to weightlift on the streets of Alexandria.
Commenting on the film’s selection, CIFF’s President, producer and screenwriter Mohamed Hefzy said that, upon watching Lift Like a Girl, the festival’s artistic management was intent on inviting the film to participate in the 42nd edition, stemming from the importance of documentary film as a genre, in addition to the festival’s belief that Lift Like a Girl is among the most important Arab films of 2020.
Hefzy acknowledged that some may view the selection as unusual, particularly since last year’s international competition featured Marianne Khoury’s documentary film Let’s Talk.
Mayye Zayed remarked: “Even though I’m so excited that the film is participating in the 45th edition of the Toronto Film Festival this September, the fact remains that it’s more important to me that the film is viewed by as many Egyptian audiences as possible, and for the audience to interact with the film via the Cairo Film Festival’s prestigious screen.”
The director has several short films under her belt, of which some participated in international festivals, including A Stroll Down Sunflower Lane, a short that screened in the Berlinale in 2016 and went on to win the Best Experimental Film award in the 2019 edition of the Sharjah Film Platform.
Zayed worked as a cinematographer on German director Simon Mukali’s feature film Veve, which was set in Kenya in 2014.