Cairo International Film Festival



By Abeer Mohamed



Movies are truly one of the few entertainment forms that have no land, and know no boundaries. They are governed by no man; and, thanks to the internet, have no limits. Most people enjoy a good movie, and to celebrate the art of cinema, countries from around the globe hold award shows and festivals to commemorate its glory, Egypt is no exception.


Banner of the 34th CIFF
Banner of the 34th CIFF



The Cairo International Film Festival (CIFF) is an annual event that celebrates cinema and takes place in Cairo. The festival began in 1976 after the late-writer and critic Kamal El Mallakh visited the Berlin Film Festival the year before. He had the idea of having a similar grand festival in Egypt to award the film industry. The CIFF is the first of its kind in the Middle-East and the only one in the area recognized by the International Federation of Film Producers' Associations (FIAPF) as one of 11 festivals worldwide with a top class rating, such as Cannes Film Festival, Berlin Film Festival, Montreal Film Festival, and Tokyo Film Festival.


The Egyptian Association of Film Writers and Critics headed the festival until 1983, and then the Union of Artists Syndicates supervised it for two years. After that point, The Egyptian Association of Film Writers and Critics joined with the Ministry of Culture and the Union of Artist's Syndicates to form a joint committee in 1985 that would improve the quality and financial state of the festival.


The first CIFF featured around 100 films from 33 different countries, having 14 movies from 14 different countries competing. The festival acts as a meeting point not only for filmmakers and critics but also for writers, intellectuals and other artists. The festivals presidents since its inception in 1976 have been Saad El-Din Wahba, Hussein Fahmy and Sherif El Shoubashy, and the current president is Dr. Ezzat Abou-Ouf.


Dr. Ezzat Abou Ouf, President of the CIFF
Dr. Ezzat Abou Ouf, President of the CIFF



The Cairo International Film Festival acts as a medium bringing together artists, filmmakers, producers, directors, actors, writers, critics, films, and cinema lovers from around the world to share their work and take part in shining a new light on the industry. It lasts for 10 days with showings of various international films in different venues. Its divided into several sections including International Competition for Feature Films, International Competition for Digital Feature Films, Competition for Arab Films, New Arab Cinema, and Tributes.


The festival gives away 15 awards: Golden Pyramid, Silver Pyramid, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Artistic Contribution, Special Mention, Naguib Mahfouz Award for the Best First or Second Work, Golden Award - Digital Films, Silver Award - Digital Films, Best Arabic Film, Best Arabic Screenplay, Special Award, and FIPRESCI (Fdration Internationale de la Presse Cinmatographique) Prize. Three juries decide on the recipients of the awards, The International Jury for Feature Films, The Arab Jury for Arabic Films, and The International Jury for Digital Feature Films. These juries are composed of a head and a number of diverse members to ensure fairness of selection, except the FIPRESCI prize that is awarded by the International Federation of Film Critics.


The 34th Cairo International Film Festival


another CIFF banner
another CIFF banner


Egypt in the eyes of the world cinema is the theme for the 34th CIFF. Every year the festival adopts a different theme and in 2010 it was decided to bring together the different films that portray or take place in Egypt. This year the festival is scheduled to start from 30 November to 9 December, with 43 countries participating including Venezuela, Zambia, Greece, Haiti, Syria, Palestine, and Finland. Every year, the CIFF honors and hosts cinema legends from all over the world: Nicolas Cage, Sophia Loren, John Malkovich, Melina Mercouri, Marcello Mastroianni, Peter O'Toole, Irne Pappas, Vanessa Redgrave, Omar Sharif, Oliver Stone and Elizabeth Taylor, to name a few.


Following the 2010 theme Egypt in the eyes of the world cinema the festival will be screening 19 films from around the world that are set in Egypt or follow historical Egyptian personalities. These films will be screened along the ten days of the festival in various venues, the venues are yet to be announced, however, so keep checking the CIFF website for updates of screening dates and locations.


List of International Movies:

  • Caesar and Cleopatra (Directed by Gabriel Pascal England, 1946)
  • Cairo Road (Directed by David Macdonald England, 1950)
  • Valley of the Kings (Directed by Robert Pirosh USA, 1954)
  • The Egyptian (Directed by Michael Curtiz USA, 1954)
  • Land Of Pharaohs (Directed by Howard Hawks USA, 1955)
  • Giuseppe Venduto Dai Fratelli (Directed by Irving Rapper Italy, 1960)
  • Nefertite Regina Del Nilo (Directed by Fernando Cerchio Italy, 1961)
  • Cleopatra (Directed by Joseph L.Mankiewicz USA, 1963)
  • Pharaoh (Directed by Jerzy Kawalerowicz Poland, 1966)
  • Blood from the Mummy's Tomb (Directed by Seth Holt England, 1972)
  • Death on The Nile (Directed by John Guillermin England, 1978)
  • The Awakening (Directed by Mike Newell England, 1980)
  • Ruby Cairo (Directed by Graeme Clifford USA, 1993)
  • Beginning and End (Directed by Arturo Ripstein - Mexico, 1993)
  • Midaq Alley (Directed by Jorge Fons Mexico, 1995)
  • The English Patient (Directed by Anthony Minghella England, 1996)
  • Cairo Time (Directed by Ruba Nadda Canada, 2009)
  • Agora (Directed by Alejandro Amenabar Spain, 2009)
  • Les Aventures Extraordinaires d'Adele Blanc-Sec (Directed by Luc Besson France, 2010)


Three Egyptian films are set to compete in this years festival, the films are:

El-Shouq will be enrolling in the International Films Competition category, The film tackles social and sexual repression, which affects girls and women in Egypt and the Arab world. The film is written by Sayed Ragab and directed by Khaled El-Hagar.


a scene from the film El Shouq
A scene from the film El Shouq


Microphone in the Arab Films category is about Khaleds return to Alexandria after several years away in an attempt to win back his old love and mend his relationship with his father. Its written and directed by Ahmed Abdallah.


shot from the film Microphone
Shot from the film Microphone


El-Tariq El-Dairi, also in the Arab Films category. The film discusses the medical corruption cases found in many hospitals, in addition to selling human organs, written and directed by Tamer Ezzat.


Honoring the Stars

The 34th CIFF will be honoring a number of Egyptian celebrities like Amina Rizq and Mahmoud El-Meligi in celebration of 100 years since their birthdays. Also actresses Laila Elwi and Safia El Emary will be honored for their amazing work in the Egyptian cinema industry; last but not least, cinematographer Ramses Marzouq will be honored for all his dedication to good cinema.

The festival will also honor three international stars of Egyptian heritage that have accomplished remarkable achievements in the cinema industry worldwide. The three artists are Fouad Said, Milad Bessada and Khaled Abdalla. Since Egyptians love Turkish and Indian cinema so much, the CIFF will honor their film industries through screening nine Turkish films from 2009 and 2010 under the slogan Spotlights on New Turkish Cinema and having seven Indian movies participate in the festival, along with having jury members and guests from Bollywood.


List of Turkish Films:

  • Ask Your Heart (Directed by Yusuf Kurcenl - 2010)
  • Black and White (Directed by Ahmet Boyacioglu - 2010)
  • Brought By the Sea (Directed by Nesli Colgecen - 2010)
  • Ejder Kapani (Directed by Ugur Ycel - 2010)
  • In Darkness (Directed by agan Irmak - 2009)
  • Vavien (Directed by Durul Taylan, Yagmur Taylan - 2009)
  • Dark Cloud (Directed by Theron Patterson - 2009)
  • Kosmos (Directed by Reha Erdem - 2009)
  • Love Bitter (Directed by A.Taner Elhan - 2009)


List of Indian Films:

  • Riwayat (Directed by Vijay Patkar - 2010)
  • Ishqyia (Directed by Abhishek Chaubey - 2009)
  • A Love Story (Directed by Anjan Das - 2010)
  • Will You Reach From Across the Skies (Directed by Gautham Vasudev Menon - 2010)
  • Noise (Directed by Raj Nidimoru and Krishna DK)
  • The Way Home (Directed by Biju Kumar - 2010)
  • An Unfinished Letter (Directed by Aparna Sen - 2010)


If youre in town from 30 November to 9 December, run down to one of the screening venues and enjoy a night of international cultural exchange.


*Keep checking the CIFF official website for screening dates and venues.
*Photos from the CIFF website and Facebook page.