CAIRO: American film star Harvey Keitel ( Taxi Driver, Pulp Fiction ), Oscar nominee Matt Dillon ( Crash, There s Something about Mary ) and legendary music producer Quincy Jones top the list of 22 confirmed guest stars at the 31st Cairo International Film Festival (CIFF).
The festival president Ezzat Abou Ouf and vice president Soheir Abdel Kader, announced the names of the international guests at a press conference at the Cairo Opera House s Higher Culture Council on Monday.
This year’s festival is dedicated to the late great Egyptian comedian Naguib El Rihany, said Abou Ouf.
Britain is the guest of honor with 14 British movies scheduled for screening, ranging from classics such as Don t Look Now to Nick Broomfield s latest production Battle for Haditha.
Fifty-five countries will participate with 151 films.
Actress Nabila Ebeid, actors Ahmed Ramzy and Nour El Sherif and music composer Rageh Dawood will also be honored.
The international competition s 11-member jury is headed by British maverick director Nicolas Roeg, the Bafta nominee who directed some of Britain s most acclaimed modern classics such as Don t Look Now, Walkabout and The Man Who Fell to Earth.
Nineteen films from 16 countries will be competing for the coveted Golden Pyramid prize in the main competition.
Egypt is participating in the competition with two films: Ihab Lamei s Ala El Hawa (On Air), starring a group of first-time performers, and Saad Hindawy s highly anticipated first feature Alwan El Sama El Saba (Seven Colors of the Sky), starring Laila Elwy and Farouk El-Fishawy.
Abou Ouf announced the festival market will be postponed until next year to avoid clashing with the Radio and Television Festival, which decided to hold this year’s annual celebration at the same time for undisclosed reasons.
Abou Ouf denied reports in Al-Masy Al-Youm alleging that the festival plans to produce its own line of films.
We don t even have enough money for the festival, joked Abdel Kader.
The two also refuted rumors regarding the Ministry of Culture s meddling in the festival s policies.
Neither the ministry nor our sponsor [Mobinil] have interfered in any way in our decisions, Abou Ouf stressed.
When asked about rumors surrounding the participation of the Israeli film The Band s Visit in the festival, Abou Ouf asserted that, as long as he s the festival president, no Israeli film will be screened at the festival.
A reporter from El Kawakeb magazine accused the festival committee of applying double standards by allowing independent filmmaker Ibrahim El Batout to compete in the digital competition with his new film “Ein Shams after he broke the unwritten taboo of traveling to Israel to shoot Nadia Kamel’s documentary “Salata Baladi (Oriental Salad).
The statement caused frenzy among both supporters and opponents of Kamel in the conference, which pushed the reporter to demand the film be banned from the festival.
Abou Ouf said he is not aware of the validity of these reports and promised to investigate the issue.
Following the press conference, El Batout spoke to Daily News Egypt, confirming his participation in Kamel’s critically acclaimed film.
“For my personal position, I am proud of that film and honored to have worked on it, El Batout said. He also rejected Abou Ouf and Abdel Kader statements that the film had a shot at participating in the digital competition since he’s still in Morocco working on “Ein Shams. He will return by the beginning of December and expects the film to have an early January release.
The Festival’s artistic director Youssef Sherif Rizkalla also told Daily News Egypt that El Batout’s film will not participate in the competition.
“If it was scheduled to participate in the competition, maybe we would have discussed this issue from all different angles, but it’s not, Rizkalla said. “His film can’t be subjected to debate since it’s not participating. These reporters just want to create a big bang over their writing. That’s all. They should double-check their information first before an outburst like that.
The 31st Cairo Film Festival opens Nov. 27 with Frank Oz’s British ensemble comedy “Death at a Funereal. The festival ends on Dec. 7.
The festival’s films are divided into 12 different categories in addition to the main international competition.
In addition, a section dedicated to Romanian cinema will see the Egyptian debut of Cristian Nemescu’s “California Dreamin’ and Cristian Mungiu 2007 Palme d’Or winner “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days. Another section will focus on the new Moroccan cinema and a third will highlight the best of Turkish cinema during the last season.
The controversial film section is composed this year of two pictures: “AmericanEast, an American production directed by the Egyptian-American Hesham Essawey, and Croatia’s “Living in the Dead.
Gavin Hood’s notorious “Rendition, starring Reese Witherspoon and Meryl Streep, is about America’s outsourcing of torture hubs to Africa and Egypt. The film will also premiere in the festival outside the competition.
The Edith Piaf biopic “La Môme, the Mariane Pearl story “A Mighty Heart – starring Angelina Jolie – and Sophie Marceau’s latest directorial effort “Trivial will be shown on the sidelines of the main competition.
Lebanese actress/director Nadine Labaki’s highly lauded “Caramel will also have its Egyptian premiere.
This year’s seminars will include a discussion concerning the future and challenges of digital cinema in Egypt. Another discussion, organized by the British Council, will center on the relationship between Egyptian and British TV and cinema. BBC, Britain’s Channel 4 and the American cable network HBO are among the organizers.
To mark international disability day on Dec. 3, the festival will discuss the relationship between cinema and people with disabilities.