With all its glitz and glam, the most-awaited film festival in the region, El Gouna Film Festival (GFF) is returning for its 3rd edition! To give us a taste of what’s to come, the film festival organisers held a press conference at the Nile Ritz Carlton Hotel to announce some exciting details, including big celebrity reveals and the story behind what cinema and film means to the founders and organization team. 

With only three weeks to go, the countdown until the launch of the GFF on September 19th has definitely begun. Lasting until September 27th, the nine day festival is scheduled to be filled with exciting screenings, award ceremonies, red carpets and more, according to the discussion panel which featured the key players behind GFF’s magic; Naguib Sawiris, Samih Sawiris, Khaled Bichara, Amr Mansi, Bushra Rozza and Intishal Al Timimi, along with Injy El Mokkaddem, the conference’s MC. 

El Gouna Film Festival Panel

The organisers’ vision for this year’s GFF is definitely ambitious, with Samih Sawiris stating, “Through the El Gouna Film Festival, the city embraces the world of cinema and film, and its creators are given a place to be creative. We are also giving ample space for cultural exchange between different nationalities, and the participation and display of arts from different countries.” Amr Mansi, the CEO and Co-founder of GFF, went on to add, “Egypt deserves to be placed on the map for international festivals, hence it was necessary to establish a festival of this scale for cinema.” 

Bigger than ever before, this edition of the El Gouna Film Festival received 133 applications (92 projects in the development phase and 41 films in the post-production phase) from all over the Arab world. Project screenings will take place alongside roundtables, workshops, lectures and discussions for professionals and experts on film industry issues.

In a similar fashion to the previous two years, the GFF will be taking over the whole city of El Gouna, transforming it into the stage for one of the biggest entertainment events of the year. Khaled Bichara, the CEO of Orascom Development Holding, explains, “The difference between GFF and other festivals is that the city of El Gouna becomes a festival in itself.”

Although the team is expecting a range of international celebrities to attend, Naguib Sawiris made a point to clarify that GFF is not about “who the most important celebrity in attendance is.” Instead, the content and the effort made by the artists is at the core of the festival’s identity. 

With this in mind, the panelists explained that the festival’s slogan is ‘cinema for humanity’, reflecting their belief that cinema is essential for portraying, receiving and influencing human emotions. Bushra Rozza, the COO and Co-founder of GFF, suggested that one of the main human emotions that GFF will be honouring is humour. While humour is often overlooked in other festivals, GFF is aiming to turn this on its head and give comedians and comic actors proper recognition, including through honouring Mohamed Henedy as a pioneer in comedy. 

With its international reach, the GFF panel also revealed that they will be honouring the critically acclaimed Palestinian director, Mai Masri. 

Amongst some of the other big reveals of the press conference: the jury for the feature film competition will include Egyptian actress, Sawsan Badr; the feature documentary jury will include clothing designer Nahed Nasrallah; while the short film competition jury will feature director Marwan Hamed alongside Tunisian actress, Dorra Zarrouk. 

With many more big names and screenings still to be announced, we are certain that this festival will be one to follow closely!