In its 40th edition, to be held from 20th till 29th November, the Cairo International Film Festival (CIFF) has announced establishing a special section titled “Arab Female Directors”.  This showcase will celebrate eight Arab women who have accomplished great achievements in filmmaking, and who have prestigiously represented Arab Cinema at International festivals.

Prominent film critic Youssef Cherif Rizkallah, CIFF Artistic director said:” As a tribute to the Arab female directors there will be screenings for some of the films that they skillfully directed recently”.

The film Nawara’ by the Egyptian female director Hala Khalil is chosen to be screened within the section. The film stars Menna Shalabi, who was awarded the best actress award at the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) in 2015 and also the Malmo Arab Film Festival in 2016 for her role in the film. Nawara tells the story of a poor young maid who happens to work in the villa of a former minister during the events of the January 25 revolution in 2011.

From Egypt, the festival has also chosen to screen Al- Khroug lel- nahar by Hala Lotfy. The film is about the struggles of a family living in one of Cairo’s poorest neighborhoods. The thirty years old daughter is having trouble expressing her hopes and dreams while taking care of her crippled father. Lotfy was awarded best director in the Arab World in New Horizons Competition at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival in 2012.

The festival will also screen 3000 nights for the Palestinian female director Mai Masri, which was screened in the Contemporary World section of the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and won the audience award at the Valladolid International Film Festival. The film is about Layal, a Palestinian teacher who is arrested for a crime she did not commit. She is sentenced to eight years in an Israeli prison, where  she gives birth to a son. Under unsurmountable pressure, Layal becomes an informant against her cell mates for the prison’s authority.

CIFF will also be screening Wajib for the Palestinian female director Annemarie Jacir, which was also screened in Contemporary World Cinema at (TIFF) in 2017. It was also chosen to represent Palestine at the Oscars. The film received three awards at The Critics Awards by Arab Cinema Center, in addition to winning the Muhr award for best fiction feature at (DIFF) in 2017. Wajib tells the story of Shady, an architect who returns from Italy to his home in Nazareth to attend his sister’s wedding and aid his father in the wedding’s preparations.

Also to be screened will be the film Wadjda by the Saudi Arabian female director Haifaa Al- Mansour. Wadjda is considered the first feature film to be completely shot in Saudi Arabia. The film received numerous international awards including the Audience Award for Best International Feature at the Los Angeles Film festival and an honorary award at the Munich Film Festival. At the Venice Film Festival, the film won the CinemAvvenire’ Award for best film, as well as the C.I.C.A.E. Award and Interfilm Award.

The film Beauty and the dogs by Kaouther Ben Hania that was recently chosen to represent Tunisia at the upcoming Oscars will also be screened within the “Arab female directors” section”. The film was screened in Un Certain Regard section at Cannes Film Festival in 2017.

From Algeria the festival will screen The Blessed, a film by Sofia Djama that received three awards at the Venice Film festival in 2017.

Finally, CIFF will also be screening the documentary film Sharp tools for the Emirati poet and director Nujoom Al- Ghanem.