History Of Cairo International Film Festival
Egypt's love of the arts in general can be traced back to the rich heritage bequeathed by the Pharaohs. In modern times, Egypt has enjoyed a strong cinematic tradition since the art of filmmaking was first developed, early in the 20th century.
A natural progression from the active theatre scene of the time, cinema rapidly evolved into a vast motion picture industry. This together with the much older music tradition raised Egypt to become the cultural capital of the Arab world.
Unrestrained by national borders, it has linked countries as far apart as Morocco and Yemen and made the Egyptian dialect the entertainment lingua franca of the region.
The influence of Egyptian cinema is as profound in the region as that of the American cinema on the rest of the world, earning Cairo the title of "Hollywood" of the Middle East.
For more than 500 years of recorded history, Egypt has fascinated the West and inspired its creative talents from play writer William Shakespeare, poet and dramatist John Dryden, and novelist and poet Laurence Durrell to film producer Cecil B. de Mille.
Since the silent movies Hollywood has been capitalising on the box-office returns that come from combining Egyptian stories with visual effects.
Egypt has also been a fount of Arabic literature producing some of the 20th century's greatest Arab writers such as Taha Hussein and Tawfiq Al Hakim to Nobel Laureate, novelist Naguib Mahfouz. Each of them has written for the cinema.
With these credentials, it was clear that Cairo should aim to hold an international film festival.
This dream came true on Monday August 16th 1976, when the first Cairo International Film Festival was launched by the Egyptian Association of Film Writers and Critics, headed by Kamal El-Mallakh.
The Association ran the festival for seven years until 1983. In order to improve the event, the Ministry of Culture, the members of the Association, and the Union of Artists’ Syndicates, which supervised the event in 1984, formed a joint committee.
In 1985, the Festival began a new era under the leadership of the eminent play writer Saad El-Din Wahba, an eminent writer and efficient executive, who was appointed by the Minister of Culture. Then, the Festival became an independent organization.
During his initial year of responsibility, Saad El-Din Wahba contacted the FIAPF, and in May 1986, this August body recognised the Cairo International Film Festival as a non-competitive event.
In 1990 the FIAPF made a study of the three most important non-competitive film festivals in the world, and the Cairo International Film Festival was ranked second after the London Film Festival and ahead of the Stockholm Film Festival.
These achievements lead to the President of the Festival again contacting the FIAPF with the request that a competition should be included at the 1991 Festival. The request was granted.
In 1998, the Festival took place under the presidency of one of Egypt's leading actors, Hussein Fahmi, who was appointed by the Minister of Culture, Farouk Hosni, after the death of Saad El-Din Wahba.
Four years later, the journalist and writer Cherif El-Shoubashy became president.
Since 2006, the Actor Dr. Ezzat Abou Ouf became president.
For 33 years, the home of the Pyramids and Nile has hosted international superstars like Nicolas Cage, John Malkovich, Morgan Freeman, Bud Spencer, Gina Lollobrigida, Ornella Mutti, Sophia Loren, Claudia Cardinale, Victoria Abril, Elizabeth Taylor, Shashi Kapoor, Alain Delon, Greta Scacchi, Catherine Deneuve, Peter O'toole, Christopher Lee, Irene Pappas, Marcello Mastroianni and Omar Sharif, as well as great directors like Robert Wise, Elia Kazan, Vanessa Redgrave, Oliver Stone, Roland Joffe, Carlos Saura, Ismail Merchant, Michel Angelo Antonioni, Luis Puenzo, Danny Glover, Jacqueline Bisset, Charles Aznavour, Mia Maestro, Myriam Mezieres, Caterina Vertova, Melania Urbina, Mayahuel Del Monte, Martina Gusman, Maria Pitarresi, Manuela Arcuri, Cesar Badillo, Gabrielle Union, Elena Zakharova, Sergi Mateu, Raul Di Blasio and Nicolas Alejandro, Quincy Jones, Harvey Keitel, Matt Dillon, Mohamed Lakhdar Hamina, Jane Birkin, Omar Metwally, Maryam d'Abo, Jason Felmyng, Aimee Mullins, Laura Harring, Nurgul Yesilcay, Fawad Khan, Iman Ali, Shaan, Zhang Jingchu, Nadine Labaki, Hugh Hudson, So- Ri Moon and Andrew Shim, Susan Sarandon, Goldie Jean Hawn, Kurt Russell, Charlize Theron Mira Sorvino, Julia Ormond, Stuart Townsend, Alicia Silverstone, Martin Henderson, Priscilla Presley, Yolande Moreau, Silvia Ferreri, Tatiana Yakovenko, Mariola Fuentes, Barbara Goenaga, Lola Duenas, Farah Hamed, Lorena Vindel, Maria Vazquez, Elvira Minguez, Marian Alvarez, Miriam Correa, Gungor Bayrak, Kivanç Tatlitug, Songül Oden, Sophie Ndaba, Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Souzan Najmeldin, Sana Kassous, Suheir Hammad and Sanaa Mouziane. in an annual celebration and examination of the state of cinema in the world today.
The 33rd Cairo International Film Festival in 2009 will take place under the presidency of the actor Dr Ezzat Abou Ouf and the honorary President the international super star Omar Sharif. They were appointed by the Egyptian ministry of culture Farouk Hosny.
Official site of Cairo International Film Festival