Jury Agree with the Best Film Award

in 42nd Cairo International Film Festival

by Yakout El-Deeb

The Cairo International Film Festival is an annual internationally accredited film festival held in Cairo Opera House. It was established in 1976 and has taken place every year since its inception—the only international competitive and feature and documentary film festival recognized by the FIAPF in the Arab world and Africa, as well as the oldest in this category. The 42nd edition took place from 2–10 December 2020. The CIFF is also the only festival in both regions accredited as “Category A” by the International Federation of Film Producers, alongside 14 other film festivals.

83 films from across 43 countries, including 20 world premieres, were scheduled to screen and compete, in addition to a few workshops, honoring ceremonies, and other activities. Florian Zeller’s The Father (2020), starring Academy Award winners Sir Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman, had its MENA (Middle East and North Africa) premiere gala screening after the opening ceremony of the 42nd edition, at the Cairo Opera House on Wednesday 2 December. 

The festival bestowed awards in specialized categories as well: The Horizons of Arab Cinema Competition, presented by the Egyptian Filmmakers Syndicate (EFMS), offered the Saad Eldin Wahba Award for Best Arabic Film and the Salah Abu Seif Award for Best Arab Artistic Contribution. The International Critics Week Competition for Feature and Documentary Films, presented by the Egyptian Film Critics Association (EFCA), offered the Shadi Abdel Salam Award for Best Film, awarded to the Director, and the Fathy Farag Award for Best Artistic Contribution. The Cinema of Tomorrow International Competition (CTIC) for Short Films offers the Youssef Chahine Award for Best Short Film, and a Special Jury Award.

The Festival Competitions broke down into: International Competition (15 films), FIPRESCI Award (15 films), International Critics Week Competition (7 films), Horizons of Arab Cinema (6 films) and Cinema of Tomorrow (19 short films). Out of Competition there are (10 films), Special Screenings (6 films) and Midnight Screenings (7 films).   

The Golden Pyramid Award for Lifetime achievement went to Egyptian screenwriter Wahid Hamed (the eye of the writer and the pen of the citizen) and British novelist-screenwriter-playwright Christopher Hampton. The Faten Hamama Excellence Award went to Egyptian actress Mona Zaki. “100 Years of Fellini” celebrated the centenary of a giant of cinema.

The CIFF International jury was composed of: Alexander Sokurov (Russia, jury president), Burhan Qurbani (Germany), Gaby Khoury (Egypt), Naian Gonzalez Norvind (Mexico), Karim Ainouz (Brazil), Lebleba (Egypt) and Najwa Najjar (Palestine).

International Competition Award categories were:

. The Golden Pyramid Award for Best Film (to the producer)

. The Silver Pyramid Awards. Special Jury Award (to the Best Director)

. The Bronze Pyramid award (to Best 1st or 2nd work, to director)

. The Best Screenplay award, named for Naguib Mahfouz

. Best Actor Award

. Best Actress award

. Henry Barakat Award for Best Artistic Contribution.

In Egypt, it is well known that the FIPRESCI prize at the Cairo International Film Festival is in the name of the prominent Egyptian film critic Samir Farid. 15 films from all over the world participated in this international competition. FIPRESCI jury members Anders E Larsson (Sweden), Elena Rubashevska (Ukraine) and Yakout El Deeb (Egypt) watched these films. In the end we agreed to give the FIPRESCI award to Limbo (2020), a British film directed and written by Ben Sharrock. The film is distinguished in both content and aesthetic values, based on the following:

The film deals with the issue of a teenage refugee escaping from the hell of war at home in search of a safer society outside it. Its cinematography, expressive visual and sound effects, editing, and graphic music add to the drama of the film. Our committee announced its FIPRESCI Award in the closing ceremony before the International Competition jury, which gave its Golden Pyramid Award to the same film, Limbo. It is a happy coincidence for us at FIPRESCI.

Yakout El-Deeb
Edited by Robert Horton