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The closing night of CIFF 2010: Egypt gets the awards ''in the eyes of the world''!
Published in Almasry Alyoum on 11 - 12 - 2010

The closing ceremony of the 34th Cairo “International” Film Festival turned into a national awards night for Egyptian cinema.
Although many foreign films did return home with more than one trophy in hand, it was peculiar to see awards being shared with Egyptian filmmakers and the two main awards going to Egyptian films.
The sharing concept might be the key to deciphering the dance sequence that kicked off the show: dancers with golden costumes from the opening night returned with their dancing queen Nefertiti to perform in front of multiple festival posters each split into two parts.
At the end of the sequence, the queen gave her crown to one of the dancers and the posters' halves were re-joined.
Was it meant to symbolize giving away awards in two pieces? Only the choreographer Walid Awani can know.
Accompanied by orchestrated tunes from Jerry Bruckeimer films, Asser Yassin and Arwa, the two anchors of the opening night, reappeared on the stage to present Dr. Ezzat Abou-Ouf, the festival's president.
Hein turn started by greeting Omar Sharif, the honorary president, and all Egyptian and international attendees. He added that, for him, it was a moment of mixed emotions: celebrating winning films while saying goodbye to foreign guests after a special edition that involved important activities related to cinema and filmmaking.
The awards' announcement began with the FIPRESCI (the International Federation of Film Critics) award, given by the jury of international critics to Svetoslav Ovcharov, the Bulgarian director of “Voice Over”, for his realistic portrayal of political dictatorship and its impact on the lives of ordinary individuals in human societies.
In the International Competition for Digital Features, the Ugandan film “Imani”, a portrayal of contemporary Africa by Caroline Kamya, received the Silver Award.
The Golden Award went to the Dutch film “Joy”, which was praised as a great film by the jury, particularly due to the performance of its star Samira Maas.
In the Arab Film Competition, Egyptian producer Mohamed Al-Adl, the president of the jury, recommended that the competition's awards should be expanded to include all filmmaking categories. Then he announced two well-deserved awards: firstly the Moroccan film “Mosque” by Daoud Aoulad-Syad was given a Special Mention for its cinematic excellence in dramatizing an avant-garde idea, and then Tunisian actress Hend El Fahem also received a special certificate of appreciation for her role in the film “Late December”.
The award for Best Screenplay was shared by the Iraqi film “Son of Babylon”, directed by Mohamed Al-Darraji, and the Lebanese film “Stray Bullet”, directed by George Hashim.
Both filmmakers strongly depicted the physical and psychological effects of the war on individuals.
Finally, the award for Best Arab film went to the Egyptian film “Microphone”, written and directed by Ahmad Abdalla. It was the most well-deserved award for an Egyptian production, for its novel narrative and the use of music and a documentary style to tell the story of free artistic lives.
The filmmaker dedicated the award to all the Alexandrian artists who appeared in the film.
Before announcing the International Competition awards, it was revealed that the Cairo Connection Film Fund would go to rising Egyptian filmmaker Ayten Amin for the script of “Midan El-Mesaha”.
Mexican director Arturo Ripstein, president of the International Jury, appeared and said that diversity reigned over the films of this edition, whose essence was to build up cultural knowledge. Before announcing the awards, he specially recognized the art of Italian director Mario Monicelli who passed away last week.
Three awards named after great Egyptian movie makers were given to three foreign films.
The Youssef Chahine Award for Artistic Creativity went to the Philippine drama “Emir”, the Naguib Mahfouz Award for a Directorial Debut went to the Polish film “Born from the Sea”, and the Saad Eddin Wahba Award for Best Screenplay went to Italian film “The Father and the Stranger”.
The Bulgarian film “Voice Over” received another award, that of Best Director. The Jury's Special Silver Pyramid went to the Irish-Swedish-Macedonian film “As If I Was Not There”.
Finally, two major awards were shared by Egyptians.
The Best Actor Award went to Egyptian actor Amr Waked and Italian actor Alessandro Gassman, the two protagonists of “The Father and The Stranger”.
Gassman said that he was delighted that the film navigates between two civilizations, while Waked said that cinema can erase differences between countries so that people can live together in peace.
A second split decision gave Best Actress Award to both Sawsan Badr, star of the Egyptian film “Al-Shawq” (Lust), and French actress Elisabeth Huppert for her role in “Copacabana”.
The long running time of “Al-Shawq” (135 minutes) provided a showcase for Badr's acting talents, but the melodramatic, dark and overlong script fell into the trap of incredibility in the final reel.
Despite the negative reviews that “Al-Shawq” received after its screening, it unexpectedly landed the Golden Pyramid Award, the major award of the festival.
Omar Sharif presented it to the whole cast and crew, including producer Mohamed Yassin and director Khaled Al-Haggar, who dedicated the film to his spiritual mentor, the great director Youssef Chahine.
Movie critics that although many Egyptian filmmakers and audience members were happy with the results, but the fact that awards being granted to local movies could cast doubts about the credibility of the festival among its counterparts worldwide.
Critics said that potential recipients of the Cairo Connection Fund should be broadened to include Arab cinema (and the fund could be used for more than one film), if its founders want it to be important for Arab cinema as a whole.

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