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Rising star
Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 06 - 09 - 2018

Last Tuesday a press conference announcing programme highlights for the second El Gouna Film Festival (GFF) took place at the Fairmont Hotel Nile Towers. Present were GFF founder Naguib Sawiris, El Gouna founder Samih Sawiris, GFF cofounders and administrative heads Amr Mansi, Bushra Rozza and Kamal Zadeh as well as Artistic Director Intishal Al-Timimi and Minister of Tourism Rania Al-Mashat.
This year the festival, which was widely celebrated on its launch, aims to showcase a wider variety of films and encourage greater networking and exchange through the CineGouna Platform. It includes 80 films in total: 15 in the Feature Narrative Competition, 12 in the Feature Documentary Competition, 23 in the Short Film Competition and 25 in the Official Selection Out of Competition. This year's Creative Achievement Award goes to Egyptian filmmaker Dawoud Abdel-Sayed and Tunisian producer Dorra Bouchoucha.
The jury brings together world acclaimed actor Ali Suleiman, Egyptian actress Mona Zaki, Moroccan director Ahmed Al-Maanouni, newly appointed Berlinale Director Carlo Chatrian, Croatian producer Cedomir Kolar, Palestinian director Rashid Masharawi, film programmer Ally Derks, three-time Green Oscar winning filmmaker from India Mike Pandey, Georgian director Ana Urushadze (winner of of GFF's Golden Star last year for Scary Mother), Jordanian actress Saba Mubarak, Austrian programmer Doris Bauer and Palestinian actor Kamel Al-Basha (who won the Best Actor Award at the Venice Film Festival in 2017).
The CineGouna Platform (SpringBoard and Bridge), which offers workshops, panels, round tables and master classes as well as prizes, has doubled its prize money, offering the winners in project development and post-production a total of $150,000 provided by GFF as well as sponsors and partners. Screening in the official competition is last year's CineGouna Award (Cannes Festival Chalais Prize) winner Yomeddine, directed by Abu Bakr Shawky.
Three tribute programmes present restored film screenings with exhibitions of art and memorabilia. They mark 10 years since Youssef Chahine's death with The Emigrant (1994), 100 years since Ingmar Bergman's birth with Persona (1966) and Wild Strawberries (1957) and 25 years since Federico Fellini's death with a discussion with the cowriter of Intervista (1987) Gianfranco Angelucci offering insights into Fellini's professional and personal life.
The Cinema for Humanity programme features Stories of Refugees (moderated by Variety film critic Jay Weissberg) Women in Film (moderated by Bouchoucha).
Highlights include (in the Feature Narrative Competition) Cold War by Pawel Pawlikowski from Poland, Dear Son by Mohamed bin Attia from Tunisia, Screwdriver by Bassam Jarbawi from Palestine and (in the Feature Documentary Competition) America by Claus Drexel, winner of the Un Certain Regard award at Cannes and Graves Without a Name by Rithy Panh from France as well as (out of competition) At War by Stéphane Brizé from France, Dogman by Matteo Garrone from Italy, Mug by Malgorzata Szumowska from Poland, Eyar Nari (Gunshot) by Karim Al-Shennawi from Egypt.

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