The fourth El Gouna Film Festival is now under way in Egypt’s Red Sea resort town of El Gouna with tight Covid-19 safety measures in place. Running until Saturday, October 31, the festival will showcase 63 films across five categories, a slightly smaller selection compared to past years.
The event had its opening night on Friday, October 23, with celebrities attending this year’s red carpet. Social distancing was maintained as stars were all kept spaced apart.
The festival's new venue, the Gouna Conference and Culture Centre, will host some of the festival’s activities for the first time.
After months of restrictions on large gatherings across Egypt, festival organisers promised fans a safe experience amid the pandemic. Screening halls are only allowed to be half full, resulting in a larger number of halls available, while the schedule has been designed to allow thorough sanitisation between each event.
At a press conference this month, festival director Intishal Al Timimi said that a large part of CineGouna, the festival’s bustling industry platform, will be made available online. “Instead of the opportunity to connect 150 people, this year, there will be 500 people available for discussion via virtual interaction,” he said.
Sixteen films will compete in the Feature Narrative Competition, including the festival's opening picture The Man Who Sold His Skin, written and directed by Tunisian filmmaker and scriptwriter Kaouther Ben Hania.
Another film in this year's competition is Palestinian director Ameen Nayfeh's debut feature 200 Metres, which also had its premier in Venice. The film sheds light on the traumatic but familiar ordeal of crossing borders, following Mustafa – played by Ali Suliman of Paradise Now – as he makes a risky journey to unite with his family who are only 200 metres away. The film won the BNL Gruppo BNP Paribas People's Choice Award at Venice.