Cinema is an authentic and artistic way for humans to connect over shared thoughts, and Egypt has always been a pioneer in the region when it comes to that specific industry. Because of this, many young adults and teenagers with an interest in filmmaking felt the need for support and larger platforms to display their work.
El Gouna Film Festival is a step forward towards achieving that vision; offering aspiring artists the opportunity to show their work in front of the biggest names in the industry, and to develop their skills through attending workshops, classes and panels. The festival launched its first edition on September 22 and has continued to impress every day through its week-long run. If you missed it, don’t worry -we’ve compiled the festival’s most important highlights for you!
1. The Fashion Statements
Celebrities have stunned day after day throughout the festival. However, their top fashion moments took place on the red carpet during the opening ceremony. Many designs stood out throughout the festival’s opening, like El Sheikh Jackson star Ahmed El Fishawy’s unique suit designed by Malak El Ezzawy, while Norine Farah made her mark on the carpet by designing Hana Shiha and Amina Khalil’s stunning dresses. Yousef Al Jasmi’s designs made Hend Sabri and Yasmine Sabri glow, and Mohannad Kojak dominated by designing several outfits for Nelly Karim, Jamila Awad, Yosra El Lozy and Ahmed Malek.
2. The Movies, of Course!
The creators of the festival have made it their mission to display a variety of movies from all over the world! The festival launched with its opening movie El Sheikh Jackson, which was received with loud applause. The organizers then set up a box office where celebrities and attendees could buy tickets to attend movies and documentaries every day in various theaters around El Gouna. Loving Vincent, an ode to Vincent Van Gogh, screened during the festival, as well as Breathe, a film written by the writers of Les Miserables.
Egyptian movies continued to create new benchmarks as they screened films like I Have A Picture, Nada, Cairo Station, and Photocopy, which also premiered in the festival starring Mahmoud Hemeida and Shereen Reda. Stories like one of a young paramedic in Russia made it to the screen through the film Arrhythmia, and ones of a Lebanese entrepreneur/refugee appeared through the documentary Soufra.
From Morocco to Singapore to Egypt, stories from over 35 countries have been turned into cinematography and have been screened throughout the festival, ending with the closing movie Human Flow; a film that reveals how all humans are bounded by the similarities in their shared emotions and common struggles.
3. The Competition
The festival is not only a platform to showcase films, but also an opportunity to receive recognition and financial rewards for excelling in creating these movies. The competition is divided into three categories: Feature Narrative, Feature Documentary and Short Films. Winners are announced in the closing ceremony; meaning they get recognized in front of a room full of A-list celebrities which definitely opens a door of opportunities.
4. The Panels
Throughout the festival, there have been filmmaking panels moderated by professionals, discussing a variety of topics from financing films, to the state of film distribution and exhibition today. They’ve even discussed important causes like the conditions of the current environment and its impact on today’s society, in addition to vital issues like the refugee crisis -and analyzing how all of these events play into the movie industry.
5. Tayarah Workshop
Tayarah, a creative production media hub, launched a workshop for short films where they chose five pitches out of 700 to compete for the chance to get their short movie produced. The workshop was created to develop ideas and discuss overall filmmaking and what it takes for a film to succeed. Hend Sabri, Amr Salama and Tamer Habib (among others) partook in the discussions and feedback and then awarded their top choices.
6. The Masterclasses
Masters of the field held classes daily to educate the attendees on how to develop their skills. Andrea Lervolino, winner of the Best Producer award at the Venice Film Festival, discussed his journey and what he believes to be the road from survival to success, while Oussama Fawzi and Mahmoud Hemeida discussed creative collaboration when it comes to developing a unique vision. Disney and Pixar screenwriters Jeff Stockwell and Richard Tanne had a panel as well, where they tackled what it really takes to be a successful screenwriter. Last but not least, Forest Whitaker will be concluding the festival with his very own master class; where he’s decided to share his Hollywood journey of success.
7. The Lifetime Achievement Awards
The audience’s hearts melted as they watched Adel Emam receive his much deserved Lifetime Achievement award for all his impactful work throughout the years. It was a moment where Egyptians were truly proud of their country’s comedic legend. At the closing ceremony, Forest Whitaker will be the one getting the award, due to his several achievements throughout the years and the impactful characters he’s played that audiences love and cherish all over the world.
8. El Gouna’s Recognition
Last but not least, one of the festival’s best highlights is seeing a beautiful city like El Gouna being recognized for its true beauty globally, and it’s a recognition that’s been long overdue.
El Gouna Film Festival has truly been a refreshing experience filled with gorgeous cinematography and meaningful conversations. The pleasure of witnessing such a well executed event and seeing its successful outcome will surely keep audiences craving the second edition!