São Paulo – The 2nd Contemporary Egyptian Film Festival will be fully virtual as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The pandemic curve in Brazil hasn’t yielded since early June. “This is our first fully online, fully free film festival in our 30 years in existence,” said Sueli Voltarelli, the general manager at Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil (CCBB) Rio de Janeiro. Pictured above is a still from The Blue Elephant 2.
The festival will run from July 29 to August 23 at www.cinemaegipcio.com as part of the #CCBBemCasa (#CCBBatHome) campaign to make content available online, since brick-and-mortar units are closed.
The Egyptian-born, Brazilian-naturalized producer and curator Amro Saad has picked out 24 titles dating from 2011 to 2019, made by the new generation of Egyptian filmmakers and ranging from comedy to horror. “I’d been looking for an answer to what happened in Egyptian filmmaking since 2011. This project had been brewing in my head for a long time. I’d been keeping track of these productions and trying to analyze the themes portrayed in these films, the production value and the growing output over the last few years,” Saad told ANBA over the phone.
The festival was designed to showcase the progress of Egyptian filmmaking throughout these years. For Saad, that involves technical aspects – such as improved image processing – as well as societal advances. This latter feature is reflected in at least 99% of work by up-and-coming directors from the new age of Egyptian cinema. “The whole world has gone through a lot during that time when it comes to cinema and art. Chief among that is the fact that you get to discuss subjects that you couldn’t before. These young people have managed to carve up the space to engage in dialogue with society,” he said.
The festival’s being online enables it to reach a wider audience. Nevertheless, the curator is eager to go back to hosting events at movie theaters. “I want to be able to go back to theaters once this is all over. It’s good to see live audiences when it comes to theater and cinema. Of course we are observing this moment and keeping the culture alive. Culture is also healing. It’s not just about a vaccine to save us; it’s also about art, music and cinema. That’s part of our process of going back to reality. I am happy to be part of it. I’m not looking to normalize this [isolation]. It’s a phase, it will pass,” he said.
Aside from daily film showings, the festival will include a workshop, a lecture and a debate with filmmakers. Documentary film ‘Where did Ramses Go?’ will be featured in a special opening session, alongside a debate debate with curator and filmmaker Amr Bayoumi, plus a show by the Mazaher group streaming directly from Cairo.
Festival highlights include Marwan Hamed’s horror film ‘The Blue Elephant 2’ (2019), the biggest box office hit to date in Egypt; Iman Kamel’s ‘Egyptian Joan of Arc’ (2016), a documentary addressing the experiences of Egyptian women in the wake of the January 2011 revolution; Hussein Al Imam’s ‘Like a Matchstick’ (2016), a comedic tribute to the stars of the Golden Age of Egyptian cinema; and Mohamed Zedan’s ‘I Have a Picture’ (2017), a documentary that traces back the history of Egyptian filmmaking through the life story of Motawe Eweis, who has done background acting in about 1,000 movies since the 1940s.
2nd Contemporary Egyptian Film Festival
July 29 – August 23, 2020
Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil – #CCBBemCasa
Translated by Gabriel Pomerancblum