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The films set to premiere at Cairo International Film Festival in December

This year's line-up includes world premieres of both regional and international films

'German Lessons' by Bulgarian director Pavel Vesnakov will have its world premiere at the Cairo International Film Festival. Ciff
'German Lessons' by Bulgarian director Pavel Vesnakov will have its world premiere at the Cairo International Film Festival. Ciff

The Cairo International Film Festival, which will run from Wednesday, December 2 to Thursday, December 10, has announced more films that will be screened as part of the 42nd event.

Earlier in the year, the festival unveiled a number of international titles as part of its programme, including Chloe Zhao’s Nomadland, which was the opening feature at the Venice International Film Festival in September, Bassam Tariq’s Mogul Mowgli, starring British actor and rapper Riz Ahmed, and Ben Sharrock’s comedy-drama Limbo, which stars Egyptian actor Amir El Masry.

The festival will open with the Middle East and North Africa premiere of first-time director Florian Zeller’s The Father, starring Academy Award winners Sir Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman. The film is based on Zeller’s 2012 play La Pere. It follows the story of an elderly man (Hopkins), who refuses assistance from his daughter as he ages. It's already creating Oscars buzz for Hopkins.

“The festival’s programming team is proud to debut a selection of the most anticipated films of the year to the massive audiences of critics and cinephiles in Cairo. This comes in parallel with the various activities of Cairo Industry Days, which offers film professionals a special space to connect with the international filmmaking community,” said festival president Mohamed Hefzy, in a statement.

In addition to feature film Curfew by Amir Ramses, two films running in the international competition will have their world premieres in Cairo German Lessons by Bulgarian director Pavel Vesnakov and Mo Er Dao Ga by Chinese director Jinling Cao. German Lessons traces the torment of a middle-aged man, Nicola, who is desperately trying to mend broken ties with his loved ones a day before leaving for Germany.

Mo Er Dao Ga, which is thought to be the first film shot in the dense Mongolian forest of Moer Daoga, tells the story of an ordinary lumberjack fighting alone for the last virgin forest, and is a beautiful exploration of the relationship between humans and nature.

The Horizons of Arab Cinema section will also screen two world premieres Egyptian documentary On the Fence by director Nesrine El Zayat and Had El Tar by Saudi Arabian filmmaker Abdulaziz Al Shlahei.

Other titles by Arab filmmakers that have been announced as part of the festival line-up include Autumn of the Apples by Moroccan director Mohamed Mouftakir, which makes its international premiere at the festival. The film takes place in a small Moroccan village best known for its remarkable apple trees, where a young child is exposed to life’s toughest experiments to explore the essence of love, life and death.

From Lebanon will be Robert Cremona’s TV Society, which follows the story of Lebanese actor Fouad Yammine after the broadcast of a controversial television dating show that he hosted. Finally, Egyptian director Sara Shazly’s Isabel explores the different aspects of the life of the titular young child and her relationship with her mother.

'TV Society' by Robert Cremona follows the story of Lebanese actor Fouad Yammine after the airing of a controversial dating television show which he was the host of. Ciff
'TV Society' by Robert Cremona follows the story of Lebanese actor Fouad Yammine after the airing of a controversial dating television show which he hosted. Ciff

In the short film category, three films have been announced, which will have their world premieres at the event. The first is The Man Who Swallowed the Radio by Egyptian director Yasser Shafaei. It's a comedy about a man who has to undergo surgery to remove a radio from his stomach. The second is a French-Tunisian film titled I Bit My Tongue by Nina Khada, who explores her home town through the prism of linguistics. The third is Saudi director Sara Mesfer’s The Girls Who Burned the Night, which follows two teenage girls as they get ready for a wedding party. One of them suddenly decides to embark on a shopping spree, which leads to an unexpected turn of events.

The festival also announced that it will host its third Cairo Industry Days event this year, which gives industry professionals access to panels and masterclasses, as well as allowing for networking and project presentations that could lead to co-productions. The event will run from Friday to Monday, December 4 to 7.

“This year’s edition of Cairo Industry Days, while it may look a little different, is more important than ever with a wide range of opportunities for registered festivalgoers to celebrate filmmaking, learn and network,” said Aliaa Zaky, head of Cairo Industry Days, in a statement.

“The curation of programmes, masterclasses and panel discussions will explore a wealth of related topics facing the industry at a crucial time of global change hosted by some of the industry’s key players.”

In October, organisers announced the change of dates for the festival, which was pushed back from this month to December, in order to ensure that necessary precautions to welcome festival guests and audiences were put in place.

The Cairo International Film Festival is expected to announce the rest of its participating films for this year at a press conference on Monday, November 16.

Updated: November 15, 2020 01:24 PM

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