Palestinian film scoops three awards at El Gouna Film Festival

Palestinian film scoops three awards at El Gouna Film Festival

The film festival wraps with a screening of all winning films

Ameen Nayfeh’s Palestinian feature 200 Metres picked up three prizes at the closing ceremony of the fourth El Gouna Film Festival.

Nayfeh’s first feature film won the Cinema For Humanity Audience award for “exemplifying humanitarian themes”, the critics award (Fipresci) and Ali Suliman received the El Gouna Star for Best Actor. Earlier this week, the film’s producer May Odeh was awarded the Mena Variety Talent Award in recognition of her first endeavor as a feature film producer.

The film sheds light on the traumatic but familiar ordeal of crossing borders, following Mustafa — played by Suliman of the Academy Award nominated film Paradise Now — as he makes a risky journey to unite with his family who are only 200 metres away. The film world premiered at the Venice Film Festival in September where it won BNL People’s Choice Award.

Tunisian director and scriptwriter Kaouther Ben Hania’s The Man Who Sold His Skin, an intriguing take on the problems of dehumanizing the plight of refugees — through which she simultaneously takes a jab at the contemporary art world — won the trophy for Best Arab Narrative Film. It also had its world premiere at Venice earlier this year, where its lead actor Yayha Mahayni won the award for Best Actor.

Scroll through the red carpet gallery for the closing ceremony at El Gouna Film Festival

Quo vadis, Aida?, Serbian director Jasmila Zbanic’s gripping feature exposing the atrocities of ethnic cleansing during the Bosnia-Herzegovina war, won El Gouna Golden Star for Narrative Film, while Jasna Duricic, the woman at the heart of the war drama, won El Gouna Star for Best Actress.

The D’Innocenzo brothers’ Bad Tales, the cross-genre Italian feature centered around three families who spend one long summer together, won the Silver Star, while the immersive Azerbaijani drama In Between Dying by Hilal Baydarov scooped the Bronze Star.

In the documentary race, Teboho Edkin’s Days of Cannibalism, chronicling the economic takeover of Africa by China scooped the top prize. Sam Soko’s Softie came in second place and Truffle Hunters by Michael Dweck and Gregory Kershaw, came in third.

Meanwhile, Their Algeria, an intimate directorial debut from self-taught Algerian director Lina Soualem, which takes a deep dive into family secrets as well as memories of love and migration, scooped the trophy for Best Arab Documentary Film.

In the short film competition, which brought together 18 films from 14 countries, Being My Mom, directed by Italian director Jasmine Trinca, picked up the golden star trophy.

El Gouna Star for Best Arab Short Film went to I Am Afraid to Forget Your Face by Sameh Alaa, whose film won the Palme D’Or for best short at Cannes Film Festival. As well as being the first Egyptian film to win the award, Alaa’s film also represented the first time an Egyptian short had been nominated for the highest prize awarded at Cannes.

Despite fears of resurging Covid-19 cases, organizers of El Gouna insisted on holding an offline edition of the festival, buoyed by the experiences of Venice and San Sebastian. The organizers rolled out a number of changes to the festival’s regular format to ensure the safety of attendees. These included making wearing face masks compulsory as well as holding socially distant screenings and carrying out regular temperature checks.

Winners were announced last night during a start-studded ceremony at the Plaza, the festival’s lavish, newly-inaugurated outdoor headquarters. All winning films will be screened throughout the day, which is the last day of the festival.

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