El Gouna Film Festival screens award-winning films “Amira”, “Plumes” with mixed reactions
DUBAI: The El Gouna Egyptian Film Festival screened on Tuesday Egyptian director Mohamed Diab’s award-winning film âAmira,â which premiered at the 78th Venice Film Festival this year.
The film revolves around Amira, a 17-year-old Palestinian woman who has lived her entire life believing that she is the biological daughter of a Palestinian prisoner serving a life sentence in an Israeli prison.
The film, set in the West Bank of Palestine, features a stellar pan-Arab cast, including Jordanian star Saba Mubarak, Palestinian-Israeli actor Ali Suliman and emerging Jordanian actress Tara Abboud, who landed her first starring role as than Amira.
“Amira” won two prestigious awards at the Venice International Film Festival – the Lanterna Magica Prize and the Interfilm Prize.
It is in competition for the Feature Narrative Award in El Gouna.
The film was also screened at the recent Toronto Film Festival.
On Monday, the festival screened the Egyptian film âPlumesâ, directed by Omar El-Zohairy.
However, the film – which won the Cannes Film Festival Critics’ Week Grand Prix – sparked controversy at the event and on social media.
Some Egyptian filmmakers and actors, including Sherif Mounir, Ahmed Rizk and Ashraf Abdel Baqi, left the screening of the film because they believed the film offended Egypt.
“Feathers” tells the story of a mother who dedicates her life to her husband and children. When a magic trick goes awry at her four-year-old son’s birthday party, an avalanche of fortuitous nonsense descends on the family. The magician transforms her husband, the authoritarian father, into a chicken.
The mother is now forced to put herself forward and take care of the family while trying to bring her husband back. As she tries to survive, she undergoes a brutal transformation.
In a telephone interview with Egyptian host Amr Adib on his show “Al-Hekaya”, Mounir said: “When I left (the screening), I was followed by others right after me. I saw, and the film’s image, portrays us (Egyptians) in a negative way, it shows people suffering abnormally.
âEven the poor neighborhoods, which ‘were’ there, did not live so badly. I was disappointed to be honest. I was also disappointed that when it premiered abroad it won awards, âhe said. “I no longer see this image (or these struggles) in our country.”
“I don’t know what the people who awarded the film liked about this film,” he added.
Egyptian news agency Al-Masry Al-Youm shared a statement released by the festival that said, âThe El-Gouna Film Festival values ââand appreciates all filmmakers around the world for their outstanding art and cinematic experiences. The festival team selects the films according to their artistic and cinematographic qualities, according to the standards of international film festivals.
“This year, in its fifth edition, the selection of the film ‘Feathers’ by Egyptian director Omar El-Zohairy is part of the film selection process, based on its success in other international forums,” the statement added.
Speaking of its Cannes award, the festival organizers added: âThis is the first Egyptian film to receive such a prestigious award. He also won the Grand Prix of the Pingyao Festival in China yesterday. It will be screened at the next Carthage Festival.
âRegarding the opinions of many Egyptian and international critics, the setting and time of the film has not been identifiedâ¦ films,â the statement read.