El Gouna Film Festival (GFF) unveiled the highlights of its sixth edition set to be held from 13 to 20 October. In a press event on Monday, the festival announced it is hosting a “film market”, for the first time, in addition to several new initiatives including the “CineGouna Emerge”.
The festival returns after a one-year hiatus, which according to Intishal al-Timimi, director of GFF, didn’t affect it, but highlighted its importance on the cinematic scene. He also noted that the void the festival left and its comeback reflected the success of its past five editions, and the sturdy foundations on which it stood since its debut in 2017.
Timimi said he’s committed to maintaining the power of GFF despite the serious competition among the Arabic film festivals, which start with the Gouna festival and ends with the Red Sea Film Festival separated by short time intervals.
This year, the Feature Narrative Competition includes 14 films. The jury of the competition is headed by Bosnian Director Jasmila Žbanić.
The GFF program also 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.
Also, 13 films compete for the GFF's annual Cinema for Humanity Audience Award, while five compete for El Gouna Green Star Award dedicated to the best work covering environmental causes.
Eng. Naguib Sawiris, the festival founder, said “the city of Gouna is the key behind the festival’s success. Cinema makes happiness and we need that,” noting that he’s passionate about movies and that he watches four films a day. Sawiris said the festival has succeeded since its first edition thanks to good intentions and teamwork.
Marianne Khoury, GFF artistic director, announced that 80 films are partaking in the festival, some of them won international awards. She also said that the festival received a total of 160 submissions, and the committee selected 20 projects — 13 in development and 7 in post-production, adding that 14 films will be screened simultaneously with the GFF as part of the “Zawya Cinema”, so the audience in Cairo can watch them. Yousra, the esteemed actress and member of the International Advisory Committee, called on the media to give the festival’s major segments, workshops and events the same attention usually given to the Red Carpet.
Amr Mansi, GFF executive director, said he is betting on a different edition that serves the cinema industry and puts it on par with tourism. “We were concerned about the economic situation and the lack of sponsor, but we saw a remarkable enthusiasm from the old sponsors and those who have joined as for the first time,” he added.
The press event was also attended by filmmaker Marwan Hamed, who will be handed the 2023 Career Achievement Award; and filmmaker Amr Salamah who partakes in the festival with his film “60 Pound” in the short film competition. El Gouna Film Bridge includes a panel with artist Hend Sabry, and a lecture on production with American producer Ted Hope, in addition to a number of discussion panels on topics like influential filmmaking, storytelling and climate, and the Egyptian cinema.