In Alexandria Mediterranean Countries Film Festival (AMFF) 2015:
The 31st edition taking place 2-8 September pays homage to 120 years of cinema
and honors the names of Omar Sharif, Faten Hamama and Nour El-Sherif
by Sherif Awad
Featuring more than 300 films varying between the short and the long, the documentary and the narrative, the Arab and the Mediterranean, the 31st Alexandria Mediterranean Countries Film Festival (AMFF) is coming to the Bibliotheca Alexandrina that will host the opening and closing ceremony. Taking place between 2 and 8 September, the festival will show its films across Alexandria Cinemas and Cultural Centers..
At the opening ceremony, the festival will start by celebrating the 120th anniversary of cinema bringing back the memories of Lumière Brothers and their first film projection on December 28, 1895 in Lyon, France. The opening night will feature a special screening of a short film called “120 Years of International Cinema” made out of clips from silent classics and talkies. The film was conceived and edited by a French film student called Joris Faucon Grimaud who also added clips from Egyptian films like Destiny by Youssef Chahine.
This year, AMFF expands its competitions from three into six. In addition to the main Mediterranean Competition for Long Narratives, the Mediterranean Competition for Short Documentaries and Narratives and the Competition of Alexandrian filmmakers, the 31st edition will feature three new ones: An Arab Long Documentary Competition, an Arab Short Competition for Documentaries and Narratives and an Arab Long Arab Narrative Competition. The jury of the competition will have the possibility of spliting the 50,000 EGP prize between two best Arab films as each Arab country can be represented by one or two films. This year, the jury of this competition will have Egyptian director Omar Abdel-Aziz as president, along with Lebanese artist Nadine El-Rassi, Egyptian director of photography Dr. Samir Farag, Omani director Dr. Khalid Al Zadjali and Jordanian actress Saba Mubarak as members. Regarding Nour El-Sherif as well, Abaza also made an agreement with director Amir Ramses to show his film Cairo Time, the last film that starred El-Sherif, in a special presentation followed by a symposium as tribute to the late artist.
The festival’s main Mediterranean Long Narrative Competition is also featuring many important films. Italian director Laura Bispuri and Belgian star Flonja Kodheli will both come and present Sworn Virgin, an Albanian drama about a Hana, a young woman living at a Northern Albanian village. She must evoke an old law and take an oath to remain a virgin for eternity. Years later, as Mark, she leaves home for the first time and travels to Italy to stay with her sister, crossing over into a world unlike anything she has known before. Story of Judas by Algerian-French writer and director Rabah-Ameur Zaïmeche retells the story of Judas and his relationship with Jesus whose teaching attracts attention of the crowds, the high priests and the Roman authority. Zaïmeche also plays Judas, the title-character. The jury of this competition will be president by Egyptian star Ilham Shahin, along with French screenwriter Catherine Courel Locicero, Greek director of photography Yiannis Daskalothanasis, Italian-Colombian veteran actor Lou Castel, Tunisian director Nejib Belkadhi and Algeria director Hassan Benjelloun as members.
The Mediterranean Short Film Competition will feature more than twenty films. Among them, Liked, a Slovenian short by writer-director Drazen Stader. The story is connected to nowadays’ misuse of internet and social media and revolves around a seventeen year-old called Anja who becomes the victim of web scandal when someone post an intimate video featuring her and her boyfriend.
In the Arab Long Documentary Competition, the Tunisian-produced War Reporter by Mohamed Amine Bouhkris in which the director captivated by his own camera the events of the so-called Arab Spring in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Syria.
Among the film premieres, Sulaf Fawakherji will come to Alexandria to show her directorial debut Cherry Letters, a romantic love story between a young man and a young woman from the Syrian Occupied Golan.
The organizers also made initiatives for honoring and commemorating the names of great Egyptian artists who we lost this year by giving the festival’s prizes their consecutive names. Best Actor Award will be named after Omar Sharif, Best Actress Award after Faten Hamama, Best Director Award after Youssef Chahine, Best Script Award after Naguib Mahfouz and Best First or Second Work after historian and writer Kamal Mallakh, the founder of Egyptian Association of Film Writer and Critics, the organizer of the festival.