The programme includes 12 films in the Feature Documentary Competition, 21 films in the Short Film Competition, and 17 films in the Official Selection Out of Competition section.
El Gouna Film Festival (GFF), in collaboration with Orascom Development, has revealed the details of its sixth edition. This conference, hosted with the support of the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Tourism & Antiquities, featured founders, sponsors, and film professionals. GFF unveiled the highlights of its upcoming edition, scheduled to take place in El Gouna from October 13 to 20, 2023.
Distinguished figures at the conference included Naguib Sawiris, the founder of the festival; Samih Sawiris, the driving force behind El Gouna; Amr Mansi, the executive director and co-founder of the festival; Intishal Al Timimi, the festival director; Marianne Khoury, the festival’s artistic director; Omar El Hamamsy, Group CEO of Orascom Development; the renowned artist Youssra, a member of GFF’s International Advisory Board; Mohamed Amer, CEO of El Gouna; and Elena Panova, the UN Resident Coordinator in Egypt.
Samih Sawiris, founder of El Gouna said: “The return of GFF and the determination of its continuation represent a top priority for me personally. Due to its purpose to bring happiness to the audience. And also for its vital mission that has been carried out since its inaugural edition in 2017, to become the most important cinema platform in the Middle East and to assert on the value of the city of El Gouna as a unique tourist destination in the region.”
Naguib Sawiris added: “My initial belief in the importance of establishing a film festival with international standards proves its sincerity with GFF’s forthcoming sixth edition, the stability of its position as well as its essential role in the cultural life in Egypt and the support it offers to strengthen its situation in the Arab world.”
Amr Mansi stated: “We wanted to ease the coverage of the festival’s activities by creating the Festival Hub which will be the venue for the industry-related events as well as the red carpet. Centralising all the activities of the CineGouna Platform at the Plaza can help to make it easier for the press and media to make a balanced coverage for all the festival’s events.”
Intishal Al Timimi commented: “The absence of the El Gouna Film Festival from the cultural calendar was very much felt by all concerned. It made us and others conscious of the importance of the festival. We are happy to resume the role the festival has played in the development of the industry in the region. I would like to thank the eminent personalities such as Youssra, Hend Sabry, Tarek Ben Ammar, Yousry Nasrallah, Abderrahmane Sissako, Atiq Rahimi and all in fact all the members of our International Advisory Board, for playing a significant part in nurturing the festival with their guidance and support with their guidance and support since its inception.”
The festival director revealed that the Jury of the Feature Narrative Competition would be led by Jasmila Žbanić, known for her film Quo Vadis, Aida?, which received critical acclaim and award nominations.
Marianne Khoury highlighted the challenges faced during the past year and the commitment to creating a compelling edition.
Commenting on the significance of the upcoming El Gouna Film Festival, Omar El Hamamsy noted: “We are proud to partner with El Gouna Film Festival, bringing the prime cinematic event to the region for the sixth time. Our enduring commitment to exceptional arts and cultural events is an important way that we deliver on our customer promise to create vibrant towns in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. Hosting Andermatt Music concerts at our world-class Concert Hall in Andermatt Swiss Alps and Opera Aida’s 150th anniversary in El Gouna are just a few examples of the premium local and global activities that harness the unique essence of each of our towns. This year’s GFF returns to El Gouna, our thriving coastal town by the Red Sea, with a remarkable lineup of films and a robust industry and events program.”
The conference provided details about the sixth edition, including the film lineup, industry events, and attendees. The programme will feature 14 films in the Feature Narrative Competition, 12 films in the Feature Documentary Competition, and 21 films in the Short Film Competition, along with Special Presentations and films in the Official Selection Out of Competition sections.
Furthermore, the conference shed light on the industry-related events planned within the framework of the CineGouna SpringBoard, CineGouna Bridge and CineGouna Market, the arms of the CineGouna Platform. The attendees can expect a lineup of master classes and panel discussions, graced by industry professionals and experts. CineGouna Platform has extended invitations to numerous international and regional experts connected with various facets of the film industry.
GFF reported a strong response to the call for entries for CineGouna SpringBoard, receiving 163 submissions, including 117 projects in development and 46 in post-production from the MENA region. A total of 20 projects, 13 in development and seven in post-production, were selected for the sixth edition of CineGouna Springboard.
The conference also highlighted activities planned at CineGouna Bridge, which serves as a hub for sharing industry insights and experience with emerging talents.
GFF announced the recipient of the 2023 Career Achievement Award, which will be awarded to Egyptian filmmaker Marwan Hamed for his significant contributions to cinema.
Youssra, an artist and member of GFF’s International Advisory Board, expressed her happiness for the festival’s return and highlighted the importance of cinema as a cultural industry. She added: “Cinema is an important industry, it is the mind, the consciousness and culture of the nation, and she wishes that the media would focus on the workshops and the films, especially with the presence of the artistic director who comes from Youssef Chahine’s family and also who made wonderful films.”
The conference unveiled new initiatives, including CineGouna Market, designed to connect content creators with potential buyers, distributors, and partners.
Additionally, GFF introduced CineGouna Emerge, a programme dedicated to students and first-time filmmakers, offering resources, guidance, promotion, and support to nurture young talents.
Elena Panova emphasised the United Nations’ partnership with GFF and its support for the festival’s initiatives. She said: “I appreciate the partnership with Egypt. Our ambition at the United Nations is to support Egypt in sustainable development, with this effort and creative partnership. Films give voice to those we do not hear, and face to people we do not normally see. Our partnership with El Gouna Film Festival started with its first edition and we continue to support the festival and its slogan Cinema for Humanity. This year we are collaborating with the festival for its initiative CineGouna Emerge which is will support students and young filmmakers.”
GFF announced a collaboration with Zawya to expand the festival’s audience, screening films from the GFF programme at Zawya in Cairo.
The festival will also pay homage to Jane Birkin by screening her film and feature a special programme showcasing restored Sudanese cinematic gems.
The press briefing provided a comprehensive overview of the upcoming GFF#2023, with an array of films, industry events, and initiatives aimed at fostering the growth of the film industry in the MENA region and beyond.