Festival Reports

Fourth El Gouna Film Festival

System Administrator Monday December 21, 2020

In a wonderful location on the Red Sea, the 4th edition of the El Gouna Festival showed more than 60 films from all over the world, but very few from Asia. In fact we, as the Netpac jury, were requested to select among seven films: two from Japan,one from Azerbaijan, one from China (Hong Kong) one from Palestine, and two documentaries from Cambodia and Russia.

The programme consisted of three official competitions (Feature Narrative Competition, Feature Documentary Competition and Short film Competition), and the Official Selection out of Competition, plus Cinema for Humanity Audience Award.

Basically, the great majority of the films came from international film festivals like Cannes, Venice, Toronto and Sundance. There were many guests in attendance despite the coronavirus, all the rules were respected, the many cinemas of the festival were full - especially by the young generation of Egyptians film lovers - in the approved capacity. The  goal of El Gouna FF - for sure one of the leading festivals in the region - is to connect filmmakers from the region with their international counterparts in a spirit of cooperation and cultural exchange.

The Festival had also the 4th edition of CineGouna Platform, an industry-oriented event created to support and empower Arab filmmakers and help them find artistic and financial support among Arab and international professionals.

There were many panel discussions, round tables and master classes with experts in the field of cinema.

Last but not least, the winners of the different competition were awarded a total of US$ 224.000 cash. CineGouna Platform awarded a total of US$ 340.000 to the winning project in development and film in post-production.

Regarding our jury, the discussion was brief and moved straight to the final decision. In fact, we - Macdy El Tayeb, Andrey Vasilenko and I - immediately agreed on orienting ourselves towards the authors of first or second works, thinking that this was also one of the paradigms that guides Netpac’s choices. This meant putting aside Rithy Panh’s strong drammatic documentary, Irradiates, on destructive follies such as the atomic bomb and genocide in different parts of the world in the 20th century. For the already numerous international awards for their relevant films, we put aside also Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Wife of a Spy, set at a historical moment in Japan in 1940 as well as - for the same reason - the very touching movie by Naomi Kawase, True Mothers. As for the anthology film Septet The Story of Hong Kong made by seven key Hong Kong directors, it was our modest impression that maybe more could have been expected from each of these renowned figures (Johnnie To, Tsui Hark, Ann Hui, Ringo Lam, Patrick Tam, Sammo Hung and Yuen Woo-Ping). 33 Words About Design by Olga Morozova and Natalya Klimchuk, which video interviews 33 Russian designers, was, it seemed to us, more suitable for online diffusion.

Incidentally,  the choice of putting this video in competition could, alternatively, have brought in another Russian debut feature film, The Whaler Boy by Philipp Yuryev, a really good and interesting work and, in a way, a more Asian product than the video on Russian stylists.

That said, our choice was reduced to just two films: 200 Meters (a co-production  between Palestine, Italy, Jordan, Sweden) by Ameen Nayfeh, a talented director, acclaimed for some of his previous works. It tells the story of an individual’s experience who suffers in the battered Palestinian land; and In Between Dying, the second fiction film by Azerbaijani writer and director Hilal Baydarov, appreciated and awarded for his previus documentary at the Sarajevo Film Festival and Vision du Reel. This film is a poetic story, shot in a mature and intriguing way which immediatly conviced us to award it the Netpac prize.

Still from In Between Dying
Still from In Between Dying


As for the various official competition awards and their winners, they were as follows:

  • Feature Narrative Competition
    • El Gouna Golden Star for Narrative Film (Trophy, certificate, and US $50,000)
      • Quo vadis, Aida? by Jasmila Žbanic
    • El Gouna Silver Star for Narrative Film (Trophy, certificate, and US $25,000)
    • El Gouna Bronze Star for Narrative Film (Trophy, certificate, and US $15,000)
      • In Between Dying by Hilal Baydarov
    • El Gouna Star for Best Arab Narrative Film (Trophy, certificate, and US $20,000)
      • The Man Who Sold His Skin by Kaouther Ben Hania
    • El Gouna Star for Best Actor (Trophy, certificate)
      • Ali Suliman, 200 Meters
    • El Gouna Star for Best Actress (Trophy, certificate)
      • Jasna Duricic, Quo vadis, Aida?
    • Special Jury Mention  
      • Oasis by Ivan Ikic
  • Feature Documentary Competition
    • El Gouna Golden Star for Documentary Film (Trophy, certificate, and US $30,000)
      • Days of Cannibalism by Teboho Edkins
    • El Gouna Silver Star for Documentary Film (Trophy, certificate, and US $15,000)
      • Softie by Sam Soko
    • El Gouna Bronze Star for Documentary Film (Trophy, certificate, and US $7,500)
      • Truffle Hunters by Michael Dweck and Gregory Kershaw
    • El Gouna Star for Best Arab Documentary Film (Trophy, certificate, and US $10,000)
      • Their Algeria by Lina Soualem
  • Short Film Competition
    • El Gouna Golden Star for Short Film (Trophy, certificate, and US $15,000)
      • Being My Mom by Jasmine Trinca
    • El Gouna Silver Star for Short Film (Trophy, certificate, and US $7,500)
      • Blue Frontier by Ivan Milosavljević
    • El Gouna Bronze Star for Short Film (Trophy, certificate, and US $4,000)
      • Sër Bi by Moly Kane
    • El Gouna Star for Best Arab Short Film (Trophy, certificate, and US $5,000)
      • I Am Afraid to Forget Your Face by Sameh Alaa
  • Cinema for Humanity Audience Award
    • The festival’s Audience Award for a film exemplifying humanitarian themes (Trophy, certificate, and US $20,000)
      • 200 Meters by Ameen Nayfeh
    • NETPAC Award for Best Asian Film
      • In Between Dying by Hilal Baydarov
    • FIPRESCI Award
      • 200 Meters by Ameen Nayfeh

In addition, the first Khaled Bichara Award for Independent Filmmakers in Egypt went to Hamlet from the Slums by Ahmed Fawzi - Saleh. This latest addition of approximately US $10,000 to the El Gouna Film Festival prizes will be granted annually to support young Egyptian filmmakers.

-- Italo Spinelli (Italy) – Chairperson of the NETPAC Jury

Edited by Latika Padgaonkar

International Women's Day

We are pleased to bring to you, for the second year, our International Women’s Day screening!

Free online screening | 8th March

IWD theme this year is #ChooseToChallenge. A challenged world is an alert world. From challenge comes change, so let's all choose to challenge - Ubolsyn herself completely embraces the theme!

This year we invite you to a special free online screening of ULBOLSYN from director Adilkhan Yerzhanov. Our sincere thanks to the producers, Guillaume de Seille and Olga Khlasheva, for their generosity and their efforts in facilitating the screening.

Ulbolsyn Source Poffdotee

The film tells the story of a girl named Ulbolsyn (Kazakh for ‘let there be a son’) whose little sister Azhar is kidnapped by the regional mayor’s brother Urgen for marital purposes and taken away to his village. Ulbolsyn wants her sister to be free and to enter her into a foreign university so that she can pursue a future career. As soon as she learns about the incident, Ulbolsyn decides to fight for her sister and face down the patriarchal world of the people living in the Karatas village.

The film is the recipient of the NETPAC Award in Tallinn Black Nights and TRT award in CineLink Sarajevo WIP 2020

Watch MOVIE English | French