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 L
aila Eloui, Egyptian
director Khaled Youssef, Egyptian businessman Naguib Sawiris and filmmaker
Ouedraogo from Burkina Faso. The opening film is scheduled to
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
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
by Abanoub Nabil and Tahrir
by Hassan Saleh. Other shorts include Warda (Tunisia), A Blessed
(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
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. 

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Sherif M. Awad
Sherif M. Awad
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