In preparation for its 45th edition, set to be held from November 15 to 24, Cairo International Film Festival (CIFF) has set multiple objectives. These include showcasing the most recent international films that participated in prestigious film festivals and gained significant recognition from both audiences and critics. Additionally, the festival aims to highlight the importance of presenting these films for the first time in the Middle East and North Africa to captivated audiences.
These films beautifully explore a wide range of personal and universal themes, drawing inspiration from various corners of the world. Each movie presents its own artistic flair, offering captivating storytelling and tackling different subjects with creativity. This exceptional quality is a key aspect considered during the film selection process, and the festival is truly excited and delighted to share these amazing films with its audience.
Giacomo Abbruzzese’s debut feature film Disco Boy, from the main competition of Berlinale, tells the story of two people of different races, geographies and nations. Aleksei is a young Belarusian on the run from a past he must bury. Entering into a kind of Faustian pact, he becomes a member of the French Foreign Legion in exchange for the promise of French citizenship. Far away in the Niger Delta, Jomo is a revolutionary activist engaged in an armed struggle to defend his community. Aleksei is a soldier, Jomo a guerrilla fighter. As a result of one more senseless war, their destinies will intertwine. The film’s cinematographer Hélène Louvart won Silver Berlin Bear -Outstanding Artistic Contribution at the 2023 Berlin Film Festival competition.
The Survival of Kindness
In The Survival of Kindness, the Australian director Rolf De Heer tackles the story of a black woman who is abandoned in a trailer in the heart of the desert. Her captors have left her to die. Nevertheless, she escapes, and goes on a hazardous journey, from the desert to the city, passing through mountains to find more captivity and lack of freedom. The film received the International Federation of Critics Award “FIPRESCI” at the 2023 Berlin Festival competition.
Lois Patiño’s Samsara is set in Laos, where dozens of teens -studying in Buddhist temples- live. Everyday, a young man crosses the river to read a text to an elderly woman, so that she could cross over into the afterlife. The film tackles spiritual concepts in a visually unique way, which makes it an exceptional journey for the audiences as well. The film premiered as part of the “Encounters” competition at the 2023 Berlin Film Festival, where it won the Special Jury Award.
And the King Said, What a Fantastic Machine
In this marvellous documentary directed by Axel Danielson and Maximilien Van Aertryck and produced by the renowned Swedish director Ruben Östlund, we witness the whole evolution of motion pictures. From the birth of the camera obscura to the screening of the first moving picture and from the invention of the webcam to the first viral video, the witty and thought-provoking documentary chases the rise of image culture as we know it. The film was selected in Berlin and Sundance Film Festivals, and won the Special Jury Award in the International Documentary Competition at Sundance Film Festival.
In his latest film Monster, which premiered in the 2023 Cannes Film Festival main competition, director Hirokazu Kore-Eda presents an emotional and moving story about love, duty, and social struggle. When her young son Minato starts to behave strangely, his mother feels that there is something wrong. Discovering that a teacher is responsible, she storms into the school demanding to know what’s going on. But as the story unfolds through the eyes of mother, teacher and child, the truth gradually emerges. The film won Best Screenplay Award in the 2023 Cannes Festival.
The Old Oak
The Old Oak is a special place. Not only is it the last pub standing, it is the only remaining public space where people can meet in a once thriving mining community that has now fallen on hard times after 30 years of decline. TJ Ballantyne the landlord hangs on to The Old Oak by his fingertips, and his hold is endangered even more when The Old Oak becomes contested territory after the arrival of Syrian refugees who are placed in the village. In an unlikely friendship TJ encounters a young Syrian, Yara, with her camera. Can they find a way for the two communities to understand each other? Ken Loach tells a deeply moving drama about loss, fear and the difficulty of finding hope in this film which was part of the main competition of Cannes Film Festival. It is worth noting that Loach announced the film to be his last film.
In his latest film Perfect Days, German director Wim Wenders tackles a story that doesn’t take place in Germany or even the USA, as is the case in “Paris, Texas”. The film is set in Japan. It tells the story of a simple human, called Hirayama, who works as a toilet cleaner in Tokyo and is satisfied with his job. Apart from his work, Hirayama enjoys listening to music, reading books, and capturing photos of the trees he loves. Within this serenity, a series of unexpected encounters lead to revealing more about his character and past. The film, which took part in the 2023 Cannes Festival main competition, won the Ecumenical Jury Award. Additionally, the film’s star Kôji Yakusho won the Best Actor Award.
Italian director Alice Rohrwacher’s latest film “La Chimera”, which participated at the main competition of Cannes Film Festival, tells the story of the band of tombaroli, and their leader Arthur who go searching for archaeological wonders in order to sell them as antiques. Arthur searches for the face of his beloved Beniamina everywhere and digs in the ground, in the hope of finding her. The film sheds light on the illusion of humans in an adventure between the realms of the living and the dead and between forests and cities.
Fallen Leaves, which received the Jury Award at the 2023 Cannes Festival, is directed by Aki Kaurismäki, who always makes films of a unique cinematic style. The film tells the story of a man and a woman who meet by chance on a cold night in Helsinki. They try to find the first, only and ultimate love of their lives. There are multiple obstacles in this breathtaking story, including the man’s alcoholism, losing phone numbers, and not knowing each other’s names, and life’s tendency to place hardships in the way of those seeking happiness.
About Dry Grasses
About Dry Grasses, is the latest film made by the Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan. The film tells the story of a young art teacher, Samet, who completes his mandatory duty in a remote village in Anatolia. After a dramatic shift that is difficult for him to understand, he loses hope of escaping from the grim life he’s stuck in. During these conditions, he meets a teacher called Nuray. Could she help him overcome his angst?
The film participated in the official competition of the 2023 Cannes Festival, where its main actress Merve Dizdar won the Best Actress Award for her role as Nuray.
Six-year-old Cléo loves her nanny Gloria more than anyone else. When Gloria returns back home to Cape Verde to look after her children, they spend the last summer together! Marie Amachoukeli-Barsacq’s film was the opening film of the Critics’ Week sidebar competition at the 2023 Cannes Festival.
In his eighth feature film Blaga’s Lessons, director Stephan Komandarev tackles the story of an old teacher, Blaga, who falls victim to a scam that leads to losing her life savings. When she realizes that there’s no way to get her money back, everything changes, and she starts making decisions that she would never have agreed to. The film received 3 awards from Karlovy Vary Festival; the Crystal Globe and the Grand Prize of the Ecumenical Jury, while its main actress Ellie Skorcheva won the Best Actress Award.
Albert Hospodářský’s first feature film takes place in a world threatened by a solar fragment hurtling towards earth. Meanwhile, a boy tries to find a cottage in an unknown city. On his journey, he faces numerous situations and adventures that force him to confront his greatest fears. The film premiered in Proxima Competition at Karlovy Vary Festival where it received a special mention from the jury.
Do Not Expect Too Much From the End of the World
The last film on the list is directed by the famous Romanian filmmaker Radu Jude, the prolific awardwinning filmmaker. The film tells a story that lies in between cinema and economics. Angela drives around the city of Bucharest to choose roles for an advertisement financed by a multinational company. When one of the interviewees declares that the company is the reason behind his accident, a scandal erupts. The film is to take part in the official competition of the 2023 Locarno Film Festival.
CIFF is one of the most prestigious and long-standing festivals in the Arab World and Africa. It is unique as it is the only festival in the Arab and African region accredited as category “A” by the International Federation of Film Producers Associations (FIAPF) in Brasilia, France.