New Egyptian festival promotes cultural exchange

A newly launched festival in Egypt aims to highlight the role of film in cultural exchange and position the coastal city of El Gouna as a centre for arts and culture.

The first edition of El Gouna Film Festival (GFF) took place last week, with a string of celebrities in attendance.

Under the theme ‘Cinema for Humanity’, the festival screened a selection of recent international films, including two world premieres, Thomas Morgan’s documentary Soufra and Tamer El Ashry’s Photocopy.

Among the stars on the red carpet were director Oliver Stone, and actors Forest Whitaker and Vanessa Williams.

GFF’s business development arm CineGouna aims to support aspiring filmmakers in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. The ‘CineGouna Springboard’, which forms part of the festival programme, is a project development and co-production lab. Meanwhile the ‘CineGouna Bridge’ initiative provides panel discussions, workshops and masterclasses.

GFF founder Naguib Sawiris said: “I’ve always dreamt about turning El Gouna into a hub for arts and culture. Now that we’ve launched GFF, the city is more complete and has almost achieved our full vision of creating a fully integrated society. I’ve always been a film lover, and GFF is a perfect representation of how I wanted to see the film industry in Egypt and the region. I look forward to hosting the next edition already.”