Last year, we welcomed the first Egyptian and European Film Festival in Luxor as a much-needed break from Cairo-centric culture events. This year, it could not have come at a better time. Following the end of the Euro Film Panorama, the festival aims to promote Egyptian and European cultural cooperation and draw attention to one of Egypt’s most unique cities in an effort to revive tourism in Upper Egypt.
The festival is set to begin in January 2014; a press conference held on 16 December announced that this year, a special focus will be given to New German Cinema; eight films will be shown, including Run Lola, Run, The Lives of Others and Goodbye Lenin.
The conference was attended by the current festival president and prominent film critic Magda Wasef, Minister of Tourism Hesham Zaazou, Luxor governor Tarek Saadeddin, president of the Noun foundation Mohamed El-Kalioubi, filmmaker Amr Salama, novelist Bahaa Taher, who was also last year’s president, and a representative from the European Union embassy to Egypt, who said she was hoping the festival becomes a regular “rendezvous like the Panorama”.
Wasef said that 62 films will be shown during the festival in the upcoming year: “We will focus on German cinema after unification and independent cinema in Egypt through films like Last Winter and Rags and Tatters. We will be showing early digital copies of Mohamed Khan and Yousri Nasrallah’s films,” she said.
The festival is honouring a number of individuals, including notable poet Abdelrahman El-Abnoudy, who is a special guest of honour, actor Nour El-Sherif and Vladimir Menshov, who is also president of the jury. Part of the festival will be dedicated to Egyptian classics such as Shady AbdelSalam’s “Night of Counting the Years” and Mohamed El-Bayoumi’s death anniversary will be honoured by a screening of “Waqa’e’ Al-Zaman Al-Da’e”.
Minister of Tourism Zaazou said: “The tourism sector hopes to be able to support this festival each year and we are thrilled to have it in one of our most special cities, Luxor.”
Zaazou used the opportunity to announce that Luxor is getting direct flights from London and Paris in February 2014 and that Egypt Air will offer discounts if “passengers can prove residency at a hotel in Luxor”.
A prominent feature picked up immediately by journalists in the press conference was the relative absence of representatives from the Ministry of Culture. When the panel was asked, both Noun president Mohamed El-Kalioubi and Zaazou slammed the ministry for its lack of support, while festival president Magda Wasef was more apologetic and attributed their “limited support due to budget constraints”. Zaazou said that the tourism ministry was willing to help out “where the culture ministry could not.”
The festival will run from 19-25 January 2014 and will feature lectures and Q&A session with guests, including Nour El-Sherif. Wasef insisted that, having a month left until it opens, there is still a chance to convince more prominent guests to attend and said that the “whole point was to see films you could not otherwise see in Egyptian cinemas. No matter who attends, the selection and Luxor’s great winter weather should be enough to warrant a visit for those who can afford it.