The 35th Cairo International Film Festival (CIFF), slated to open on Tuesday night, has postponed the opening ceremony until 28 November. Set to run until 6 December, the festival features a selection of national and international films.
Several juries comprised of national, regional and international film greats will select the winners in the International Competition for Feature Films and Arab Feature Films, the Human rights Competition and the recipient of the Fipresci award.
It is the first time CIFF has been held since the 25 January uprising. The festival is accredited by the FIAPF, (International Federation of Film Producers Associations), and the organisers have been facing several struggles to ensure the festival would be held this year, and prevent the FIAPF reconsidering the accreditation and offering it to another festival in the region.
With the festival coinciding with a growing unrest in the country and opening on the same day as proposed political rallies, CIFF issued several statements before making the decision to postpone the opening ceremony altogether.
A statement published on the festival’s Facebook page read, “Since art mirrors real life, Cairo International Film Festival mirrors our reality from an artistic view. CIFF decided to shift it’s starting date to Wednesday, November 28th instead of Tuesday, November 27th, since the date conflicts with the protests carried out by different people who all love Egypt.”
The customary lavish opening ceremony will reportedly be toned down significantly in response to the political situation.
The planned fireworks, dances and musical performances will not be part of the first night of the festival, but the national and international stars will make their way down the red carpet in film festival style. On the opening night excellence in cinema is traditionally celebrated by an award ceremony and this is reportedly still going to take place.
Many entries in the festival feature the Arab uprising, including Ibrahim El Batout’s film Winter of Discontent. After its premiere during the Venice Film Festival earlier this year it will be the first time the film, starring Amr Waked, will be shown in Egypt.
“I am fully supporting the decision to postpone the opening of the festival,” El Batout said. When asked how he felt about his film being included in the festival El Batout said, “What is happening in the country right now is much more important than the film and I am very much involved with what is going on. Cinema and my film will come later, right now the country comes first.”
The Egyptian Cinema Syndicate reportedly issued a statement asking the organisers of CIFF to “avoid celebratory tones, to abide by the revolutionaries’ demands and show respect for the protests that will coincide with the opening of the film festival.”