Alexandria Festival, Egypt, 2016
by Sherif Awad
The 32nd Alexandria Film Festival for Mediterranean Countries returns this month and features
more than 100 international, Arab and Egyptian films. Opening and closing programs will take place at Bibliotheca Alexandrina while screenings will be at Green Plaza cinema and at cultural venues across Alexandria.
The festival, headed by film critic Al-Amir Abaza, will celebrate the 60th anniversary of the nationalization of the Suez Canal and triumph over the tripartite aggression. This year, the festival’s theme is “Cinema and Resistance” with a selection of films that deal with resistance and the quest for freedom and independence.
On opening night, there will be a special presentation of THE BATTLE OF ALGIERS (1966) by
Gillo Pontecorvo, a film classic that was commissioned by the Algerian government to show the Algerian revolution from both sides.
The popular Egyptian star, Youssra, will lead the festival’s tribute in recognition of her astonishing
career in TV and film. Other opening night honorees will include: Egyptian veteran actor Youssef Shaaban, Egyptian director Mohamed Rady, Egyptian director of Photography Samir Farag, and Egyptian producer Mohsen Allam El-Deen. Several Arab artists will also be given tributes: Syrian director Abdullatif Abdulhamid, Syrian actor Ghassan Massoud, Algerian director Merzak Allouache, Tunisian director Rachid Ferchiou and Moroccan director, Hakim Bel Abbes. The festival will publish a book about the late director Mohamed Khan, a frequent contributor to Egypt Today.
The jury of the main Mediterranean competition for Long Narratives will include Greek actress
Maria Tzobanaki. The competition will feature twelve films, including CHROME (Albania) focusing on the love affair between a beautiful teacher and her student; YOU CARRY ME (Croatia) which interweaves the stories of three Croatian women; THE PARK (France) a romantic, yet surreal story of two adolescents’ first date; and NIGHTLIFE, about the attempted assassination of a lawyer (Slovenia).
The jury of the short Mediterranean Competition will include French-Italian actress Angélique Cavalieri and Egyptian director Hala Khalil.
The festival also features four Arab competitions: Nour El-Sherif for Arab Long narratives with a jury headed by Egyptian veteran actor Ezzat El-Alayli; Arab Documentary Competition with a jury
headed by Khaled Al-Zedgaly (Oman) and an Arab Short Competition with a jury headed by Egyptian director Hany Lasheen.
The Arab documentary competition includes IF YOU MEANT TO KILL ME. Director Widad Shafakoj tackles the stories of Jordanian women threatened with honor killings who can only be saved if they seek protection from authorities via voluntary imprisonment. From Syria, MORTAL
AND DISPERSING by Najdat Ismail Anzour takes place in a Syrian region dominated by ISIS where Thoraya is trying to maintain her balance as a teacher and mother in the face of the
extremist’s ideology. However, she faces a dilemma when the Emir of the group decides he wants to marry her daughter, Noor.
The Egyptian film, ROUGE, will also be screened in the festival. Tunisian-born and now Cairo-based
actress, Fatma Nasser, stars as a hairdresser who falls in love with a young man although she has only a few days to live.