The days of grand film festivals and red carpets is getting replaced slowly with a wave of smaller events that typically celebrate underground films. But a number of major festivals across Egyptian cities still hold sway among the cinema-literate and the Ismailia Film Festival for Documentary and Short Films is one of the best-known.
The festival has been known as a main staple of the trinity of State-organised festivals to look forward to each year, after Cairo and Alexandria. It became the only hope when other festivals ran into financial or logistical issues and had to be cancelled or postponed.
Even with newer festivals such as the Luxor film festival which celebrates European cinema, and the 5 year-old Euro Film Panorama, the Ismailia film festival is among the most famous and renowned, continuing to draw audiences outside the capital, where most of the cultural and artistic events take place.
The American University in Cairo is inviting everyone to celebrate some of the festival’s best films with a week-long screening of hand-picked films from the festival. The event is aptly titled “The Ismailia Film Festival Days” and the screenings will take place at AUC’s downtown campus in the iconic Ewart Memorial Hall.
Some of the films included are Tracks of Cairo which will open the screenings, as well as other picks such as With Fidel, Whatever Happens, Battle of the Camel, Gobbel, Back to the Square, Domestic Fitless, 1/2 Revolution, Grand Cafe, In the Shadow of a Man, Tahrir Liberation Square, and The Virgin, The Copts and Me. The films are all from the festival’s 15th edition.
The films were chosen on the basis of their relationship to the Egyptian revolution, liberty, and woman’s rights. Though the criteria may be somewhat generic, it leaves enough room to include films that will be enjoyed by everyone. It is clear by the sheer number of films chosen that there was an abundance of films dealing with the themes that were chosen by the department of the arts at AUC. It is also a clear indication of the commitment of the festival to be current and stay relevant to the changing situation in Egypt.
The opening ceremony will take place on Monday at 6 pm and will signal the start of a week of screenings, ending on 7 November.