El Gouna Film Festival

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Whilst it is best known for its lagoons, coral reefs and sandy beaches, El Gouna is now garnering a reputation as the home of the preeminent film festival in the MENA region; the El Gouna Film Festival. Located in the MENA region, El Gouna, a modern resort town set amidst breathtaking scenery near Hurghada on Egypt’s Red Sea is home to over 20,000 Egyptian and international residents. El Gouna boasts an array of cafés, restaurants, clubs and bars, a marina and 17 spectacular hotels.

The El Gouna Film Festival (GFF) is the brainchild of Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris, whose vision for the festival is to enable the discovery of new voices within the Arab world. Its mission is to connect filmmakers from the region with their international counterparts in the spirit of cooperation and cultural exchange, fostering better communication between cultures through the art of filmmaking by providing a central meeting point for filmmakers, critics and audiences to gather and celebrate the art, craft and business of cinema.

It also strives to be a catalyst for the development of cinema in the Arab world, particularly through its industry segment, CineGouna Platform (CGP), which was created specifically to support and empower Egyptian and Arab filmmakers; helping them find artistic and financial support among Arab and international professionals.

In its 2nd edition, which recently ran from September 20 – September 28, 2018, Festival director, Intishal Al Timimi struck a fine balance between the red carpet events and prize money necessary to build the festival’s profile, and more serious elements such as strong programming and the CGP, which encompasses a projects market and industry panel discussions.

Located in the MENA region, El Gouna, a modern resort town set amidst breathtaking scenery near Hurghada on Egypt’s Red Sea, is home to over 20,000 Egyptian and international residents. Built along a 10 km stretch of the shore, and spread out across its small islands, El Gouna boasts an array of cafés, restaurants, clubs and bars, a marina and 17 spectacular hotels. Whilst best known for its lagoons, coral reefs and sandy beaches, El Gouna is now garnering a reputation as the home of the pre-eminent film festival in the MENA region; the El Gouna Film Festival.

The El Gouna Film Festival (GFF) is the brainchild of Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris, who’s vision for the festival is to enable the discovery of new voices within the Arab world. Its mission is to connect filmmakers from the region with their international counterparts in the spirit of cooperation and cultural exchange, fostering better communication between cultures through the art of filmmaking by providing a central meeting point for filmmakers, critics and audiences to gather and celebrate the art, craft and business of cinema.

It also strives to be a catalyst for the development of cinema in the Arab world, particularly through its industry segment, CineGouna Platform (CGP), which was created specifically to support and empower Egyptian and Arab filmmakers; helping them find artistic and financial support among Arab and international professionals.

In its 2nd edition, which recently ran from September 20 – September 28, 2018, Festival director, Intishal Al Timimi struck a fine balance between the red carpet events and prize money necessary to build the festival’s profile, and more serious elements such as strong programming and the CGP, which encompasses a projects market and industry panel discussions.

“We decided to have all the aspects of a big film festival right from the beginning, and as we succeeded with our first edition and got huge coverage, we’ve built the industry’s trust,” said Al Timimi. “Now the films are coming to us, rather than us having to chase them, and we intend to increase the number of world and international premieres in coming years.”

Events this year included a Youssef Chahine tribute concert and performance by Egyptian singer Amr Diab. International stars at the festival included Sylvester Stallone, who was presented with a lifetime achievement award at the closing ceremony, Owen Wilson, Patrick Dempsey and Clive Owen. Reflecting the complex politics of the region, the festival lost a couple of guests who were denied visas to enter Egypt, including Palestinian actor Ali Suliman, who was on the narrative feature jury, and Syrian director Soudade Kaadan, whose debut narrative feature The Day I Lost My Shadow played in competition.

The GFF’s program consists of the three official competitions: Feature Narrative Competition, Feature Documentary Competition, and Short Film Competition, as well as the Official Selection Out Of Competition, and Special Presentations. A total of about 80 films screened at the GFF and the $224,000 USD prize pool, along with certificates and trophies, will be shared amongst the winners of the competitive sections. Additionally, all feature-length films with a humanitarian theme across any section will be eligible for GFF’s special “Cinema for Humanity” audience award.

The GFF will also be presenting the 2nd edition of the CineGouna Platform, comprising a program of initiatives such as the CineGouna SpringBoard and the CineGouna Bridge. These initiatives not only provide several financial awards, but also invaluable learning opportunities through filmmaking workshops, panel discussions, round tables and masterclasses with experts in the field of cinema.