Cairo, September 18, 2023. In a press conference today, Monday, September 18, El Gouna Film Festival (GFF), in partnership with Orascom Development, and its destinations El Gouna, O West and Makadi Heights, unveiled the details of its eagerly anticipated 6th edition. The return to the festival circuit , after a brief hiatus, allowed the festival to regroup and prepare for this decisive return. GFF was thrilled to present the details of its upcoming edition that boasts a fresh, distinctive approach.
This conference, which was hosted under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Tourism & Antiquities, witnessed the presence of its esteemed founders, sponsors, and honored film professionals. GFF shared the highlights of the forthcoming edition that will take place at El Gouna from October 13 to 20, 2023.
The distinguished attendees at this conference included Naguib Sawiris, the festival's visionary founder; Samih Sawiris, the driving force behind El Gouna; Amr Mansi, the Executive Director and co-founder of the festival; Intishal Al Timimi, the Festival Director; Marianne Khoury, the festival’s Artistic Director; Omar El Hamamsy, Group CEO of Orascom Development; the esteemed artist Yousra, a member of GFF’s International Advisory Board; Mohamed Amer, CEO of El Gouna and Elena Panova, the UN Resident Coordinator in Egypt.
Samih Sawiris, founder of El Gouna said: “The return of GFF and the determination of its continuation represent a top priority for me personally. Due to its purpose to bring happiness to the audience. And also for its vital mission that has been carried out since its inaugural edition in 2017, to become the most important cinema platform in the Middle East and to assert on the value of the city of El Gouna as a unique tourist destination in the region.”
Naguib Sawiris, the festival's founder, echoed these sentiments, saying, “My initial belief in the importance of establishing a film festival with international standards, proves its sincerity with GFF’s forthcoming 6th edition, the stability of its position as well as its essential role in the cultural life in Egypt and the support it offers strengthen its situation in the Arab world.”
The executive director of GFF Amr Mansi, thanked in his speech the press and media people as they are a prime partner in the success of the festival since the inaugural edition, he asserted their role in preparing for this 6th edition with the spirit of the first one. He said: “We wanted to ease the coverage of the festival’s activities by creating the Festival Hub which will be the venue for the industry related events as well as the red carpet. Centralizing all the activities of CineGouna Platform at the Plaza can help to make it easier for the press and media to make a balanced coverage for all the festival’s events.” Finally Mansi thanked Nagiub Sawiris, the founder of the festival and Samih Sawiris the founder of El Gouna for their continuous support of the festival and their trust in its vital role for the film industry.
In his speech, the Festival Director, Intishal Al Timimi said “The absence of the El Gouna Film Festival from the cultural calendar was very much felt by all concerned. It made us and others conscious of the importance of the festival. We are happy to resume the role the festival has played in the development of the industry in the region. I would like to thank the significant part that has been played by eminent personalities such as Yousra, Youssry Nasrallah, Abdel Rehman Sissako, Atiq Rahimi in nurturing the festival with their guidance and support since its inception.”
The Festival director also revealed that the Jury of the Feature Narrative Competition will be headed by the highly acclaimed filmmaker Jasmila Žbanić , known for her famous film Quo Vadis, Aida? which was screened in the Venice Film Festival in 2020, and was nominated for the Academy Award and BAFTA. The film won the Golden Star of El Gouna award in the Feature Narrative Competition in 2020.
The Festival's Artistic Director Marianne Khoury expressed her appreciation for being part of the GFF team, led by Festival Director Intishal Al Timimi, highlighting the challenges faced during the past year and their commitment to crafting a compelling edition that stands out in a competitive field.
Commenting on the significance of the upcoming El Gouna Film Festival, Omar El Hamamsy, CEO of Orascom Development, stated, "We are proud to partner with El Gouna Film Festival, bringing the prime cinematic event to the region for the sixth time. Our enduring commitment to exceptional arts and cultural events is an important way that we deliver on our customer promise to create vibrant towns in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. Hosting Andermatt Music concerts at our world-class Concert Hall in Andermatt Swiss Alps and Opera Aida’s 150th anniversary in El Gouna are just a few examples of the premium local and global activities that harness the unique essence of each of our towns. This year’s GFF returns to El Gouna, our thriving coastal town by the Red Sea, with a remarkable lineup of films and a robust industry and events program.”
During the conference, the specifics of the 6th edition were revealed, including most of the line-up of films, industry-related events and activities, the names of esteemed industry professionals, experts and prominent film personalities expected to attend the edition.
The details of the announcements made were also given in the Press Briefing book that can be found on the festival website: https://elgounafilmfestival.com/publications
This year's program promises to be an exciting one, featuring (as of today) 14 films in the Feature Narrative Competition, 12 films in the Feature Documentary Competition, and 21 films in the Short Film Competition, along with films that will part of our Special Presentations and the Official Selection Out of Competition sections.
Furthermore, the conference shed light on the exciting industry-related events planned within the framework of the CineGouna SpringBoard, CineGouna Bridge and CineGouna Market, the arms of the CineGouna Platform. The attendees can expect a lineup of master classes and enlightening panel discussions, graced by industry professionals and experts. It's noteworthy that the CineGouna Platform has extended invitations to numerous international and regional experts connected with various facets of the film industry.
The media was duly informed that the response to the call for entries for CineGouna SpringBoard this year had been phenomenal, with a total of 163 submissions received, comprising 117 projects in the development stage and 46 in post-production, from the MENA region. After rigorous deliberation, the committee selected 20 projects — 13 in development and 7 in post-production — for inclusion in the 6th edition of CineGouna Springboard. These selections were made based on their exceptional quality, artistic vision, and financial viability, garnering praise from the committee for their outstanding merit.
Information was also shared about the activities planned at CineGouna Bridge, which remains committed to its mission as a hub for sharing industry insights and experience with emerging talents. As always, the Bridge will feature panel discussions, workshops, and masterclasses facilitated by industry professionals and experts from around the world. All these enriching events under the CineGouna Platform umbrella will unfold at the Festival Plaza in El Gouna from October 14 to 19, 2023. The speakers addressing the media reiterated that the festival remains steadfast in its support of the regional industry on the global stage, and will continue its efforts towards empowering filmmakers from the MENA region beyond the Arab world's borders.
Additionally, GFF is proudly announced the recipient of the 2023 Career Achievement Award. The award that celebrates individuals whose work and commitment to cinema has left an indelible mark in the field of their work will be bestowed upon the eminent Egyptian filmmaker Marwan Hamed, recognizing his significant contributions to cinema.
The International Advisory Board member, Youssra expressed her happiness for the return of the festival wishing that it will be better than the inaugural edition. She revealed that the opening ceremony will witness the screening of a short film directed by Amr Salama. She added: “cinema is an important industry, it is the mind, the consciousness and culture of the nation, and she wishes that the media would focus on the workshops and the films especially with the presence of the artistic director who comes from Youssef Chahine’s family and also who made wonderful films.” Youssra also thanked Intishal Al Timimi for his great effort and Nagiub and Samih Sawiris for their continuous commitment. She added that she was delighted that Marawn Hamed will be the deserving winner of El Gouna Film Festival’s Career achievement award.
The Information was provided several new initiatives that will be launched at GFF#202. Among them is the CineGouna Market, poised to become a hub for both established and emerging voices in the region, bringing together producers, distributors, sales representatives, funding agencies... The market booths will serve as a platform for showcasing projects, industry equipment, infrastructure, logistics, and the new initiatives of various organizations and institutions. The market aims to connect content creators with potential buyers, distributors, and partners. A highlight of the market is the Short Film Lounge, offering select short films for viewing at specific showtimes.
The festival organizers also unveiled, CineGouna Emerge, a program dedicated to students and first-time filmmakers. This program invites them to participate and benefit from all festival events, providing the resources, guidance, promotion, and support needed to nurture young talents. This initiative aligns with the Market's mission of fostering interactions within the film industry's vital entities in the region, enabling established and emerging filmmakers to explore potential partners for funding, completing and distributing their works. The initiative will also bring 200 young people from various Egyptian cities, with support from organizations led by the United Nations and introduce them to the festival and its activities.
Elena Panova, the UN Resident Coordinator in Egypt, expressed her happiness at being in the festival this year, she said: “I appreciate the partnership with Egypt. Our ambition at the United Nations is to support Egypt in sustainable development, with this effort and creative partnership.” She added: “Films give voice to those we do not hear, and face to people we do not normally see. Our partnership with El Gouna Film Festival started with its first edition and we continue to support the festival and its slogan Cinema for Humanity. This year we are collaborating with the festival for its initiative CineGouna Emerge which is will support students and young filmmakers.” she ended her speech saying: “Let us create happiness to the people through the Festival.”
Moreover, the festival will announce a new collaboration with Zawya ( a well known Cairo based cinema platform that showcases and circulates quality film), with the aim of expanding the festival's audience. Within the framework of this collaboration, Films from the GFF programme will be screened at Zawya in Cairo from October 15 to 20. Twice daily at 7 pm and 10 pm.
The festival organizers also unveiled in the press briefing the titles of the films in its Special Presentations section that include an homage to Jane Birkin and a special program featuring the screening of recently restored Sudanese cinematic gems, as a tribute to the Sudanese Film Group.
Last but not least, El Gouna Film Festival took the opportunity to acknowledge its valued partners “Orascom Development destinations, El Gouna, OWest and Makadi Heights”, with “ElGouna” as GFF host, “ON” Network, as Principal Media Partner, “Cairo Design District “, as Official Art & Design Partner, “Abou Ghaly Motors” - Official Transportation Partner, “Orange”- Official Telecom Partner, “Pepsi”- Official Beverage Partner, “Concrete”- Official Fashion Partner, “BMW” – Official Automotive Partner, “TRESemmé”- Glamour Partner, Supported by “Seven”, “Nestlé”- Sustainability Partner and “EgyptAir”- The Official Carrier.The GFF 6th Edition is in collaboration with “USAID”, “ Infinity” - Renewable Energy Partner, “Mohamed Al Sagheer”- Hair Partner, TicketEgypt- Official Ticketing Partner, “Lancôme”- Beauty Partner, and in Collaboration with “Impact BBDO”
About the El Gouna Film Festival
One of the leading festivals in the MENA region, GFF aims to showcase a wide variety of films for a passionate and knowledgeable audience, while fostering better communication between cultures through the art of filmmaking. Its goal is to connect filmmakers from the region with their international counterparts in the spirit of cooperation and cultural exchange. El Gouna Film Festival has gained a reputation for showcasing a diverse lineup of films from around the world, including a strong emphasis on Arab cinema. The festival aims to promote and support the industry's growth in the region and provide a platform for filmmakers to showcase their work. The festival is also committed to the discovery of new voices and strives to be a catalyst for the development of cinema in the Arab world, especially through CineGouna Platform, an industry-oriented event created to empower Egyptian and Arab filmmakers and help them find artistic and financial support. CineGouna Platform presents the CineGouna SpringBoard and the CineGouna Bridge programs that provide opportunities for sharing and learning.