Luxor Festival 2015


Luxor Festival 2015


by Sherif Awad
Last week, the film selection at the 4th edition of Luxor African Film Festival, taking place in Egypt from 16 till 21 of March, has been finally revealed with around hundred films from 40 countries to be shown. During the opening ceremony, at the Luxor Conference Hall, a special tribute will be given to Egyptian star Laila Eloui, Egyptian director Khaled Youssef, Egyptian businessman Naguib Sawiris and filmmaker Idrissa Ouedraogo from Burkina Faso. The opening film is scheduled to be the Oscar nominated Mauritanian film Timbuktu by Abderrahmane Sissako who seemed to be inspired by today’s headlines about the crimes of the so-called Islamic State ISIS aka DAESH. The story looks at the brief occupation of the small town Timbuktu in Mali by Ansar Dine Group. The film’s main protagonist is Kidane who is a cattle herder who lives outside of the city. One day, one of his cows accidentally damages the net of a fisherman. When the enraged fisherman kills the cow, Kidane confronts the fisherman and accidentally shoots him dead. The Islamists arrest Kidane and, per sharia law, demand a blood money payment of 40 cattle to the fisherman's family. As Kidane has only seven cattle, he is sentenced to death. One of the film’s subplot was also influenced by a 2012 public stoning of an unmarried couple in Aguelhok.
Before the launch of Luxor African Film Festival (LAFF) in 2012, very few African films were screened in Egypt. And after the June 30 revolution, political relations with African countries and a strong representation of Egypt at the Africa Union has become very important and so cultural coalitions between Egypt and Africa, especially in the cinema field has become more important. The 24th edition of FESPACO Cinema and TV Festival in Ouagadougou (February 28-March 4) received Egypt as a guest of honor and also LAFF will do the same in its fourth edition by receiving Burkina Faso and its leading director Idrissa Ouedraogo.
In the Long Narratives Competition, eleven films will be screened; They include Beti & Amar (Ethiopia), The Sea Is Behind Us (Morocco) L’Enfant du Soleil (Tunisia), Mbeubeuss (Senegal), October One (Nigeria), Run (Ivory Coast) and Umutoma (Rwanda). Because Burkina Faso is the guest of honor this year, two films were accepted from this West African country: L’Œil Du Cyclone and Eva.
The jury for this competition will be headed by great Ivorian filmmaker Timité Bassori and the four members: Egyptian star Menna Shalaby, Sudanese director Said Hamed, Burkina Faso director Fanta Regina and Ethiopian-born film director Yemane Demissie who also is an associate professor at New York University where he teaches narrative and documentary production, screenwriting and directing.
The Long Documentaries Competition will also include the films Ady Gasy (Madagascar), Beats of Antonov (Sudan), National Diploma (Congo), Miners Shutdown (South Africa), On this Land (Tunisia), Past Will Return (Egypt), Paths to Freedom (Namibia), A Single Word (Senegal) and Suffering is a School of Wisdom (Cameroon). Its jury will be headed by Egyptian director Magdy Ahmed Aly and four other members: Director of Photography Mohamed Shafiq (Egypt), the director of Carthage Film Festival Dora Bouchoucha (Tunisia), Screenwriter Medhat Al-Adl (Egypt), and director Sidy Fassara Diabaté (Mali).
The Short Film Competition will consist of seventeen short narratives and documentaries including two Egyptians: Tea Cart by Abanoub Nabil and Tahrir Island by Hassan Saleh. Other shorts include Warda (Tunisia), A Blessed Friday (Morocco), Fish of the Land (Tanzania) and Motherland (Senegal). Its    jury will be French-born actor Eriq Ebouaney who once played Lumumba in the acclaimed film of the year 2000. He also co-starred with Kevin Costner in 3 Days to Kill last year. The other members of the short films jury are director Joel Karekezi (Rwanda), director Saad Hendawy (Egypt), director of photography Zaky Aref (Egypt) and director Bassek ba Kobhio (Cameroon) who is the chairman of Écrans Noirs festival.  
LAFF has also invited Egyptian film critic Tarek El-Shinawy to head the jury of Freedom (Human Rights) Competition with the membership of film producer Marianne Khoury (Egypt), activist Abdoulaye Diallo (Senegal), novelist Saad El-Kersh (Egypt) and South African curator Peter Rorvik, Secretary General of Arterial Network that supports African cultures and arts. The competition will include Dream of Shahrazad by François Verster, a film that was shot between Egypt and many other countries in which his director travels through time and land to look for Shahrazad of the new century.
Ethiopian-born, Washington-based director Haile Gerima will also return for a fourth consecutive year to teach a ten-day film workshop for 20 film students from different African countries. Azza Elhosseiny, LAFF director, will continue the assembly of ETISAL and STEP funds for the support of first and second time African filmmakers.