Jasmila Zbanic to Head Jury of Egypt’s El Gouna Festival Where Arabic and International Films Will Jointly Compete for Top Prizes

Bosnian director Jasmila Zbanic (“Quo Vadis, Aida?”) will preside over the main jury of the 6th edition of Egypt’s El Gouna Film Festival, which has announced its full lineup, featuring a rich mix of Arabic and international titles making their Middle East premieres as they compete for top prizes.

Following a one-year hiatus, the Oct. 13-20 event held in the Red Sea resort about 250 miles south of Cairo is back in full swing with founder and director Intishal Al Timimi firmly at the helm bolstered by widely respected Egyptian producer-director Marianne Khoury in the artistic director chair.

Alongside a roster of previously announced international festival circuit standouts competing for El Gouna awards, such as Justine Triet’s Cannes Palm d’Or-winning “Anatomy of a Fall,” Todd Haynes’ “May December” and Luc Besson’s “Dogman,” which was announced today, the new Arabic additions to El Gouna’s competition selection comprise the world premiere of French-Iraqi director Leila Al Bayaty’s “From Abdul to Leila,” which deals with the scars of Saddam Hussein’s regime; Egyptian director Ayten Amin’s comedy “The Shanabs,” about a funeral in Alexandria which prompts some funny situations; and Moroccan director Leïla Kilani’s “Birdland (Indivision),” set in El Mansouria, near Tangier, which combines family melodrama and social fable elements.

Competition entries at El Gouna will compete for prizes worth a total of $110,000 in cash.

Al Timini, in a statement, underlined that as the fest continues, it is building on “accumulated experiences but also injecting new ideas and perspectives.” In this respect “Marianne [Khoury] brings with her an exceptional knowledge of the international film industry as well as a deep relationship with the regional and local film community,” he said.

The El Gouna team this year is also being bolstered by the inclusion of Egyptian critics and programmers Andrew Mohsen and Mouwafak Chourbagui to the programming team. Additionally, another well-respected Egyptian critic, Ahmed Shawky – who was recently elected new president of the International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI) – has joined El Gouna to manage the CineGouna SpringBoard project development and co-production lab, while Youssef El Shazli, co-founder of Cairo-based arthouse cinema Zawya Cinema, is now managing the expanded CineGouna Bridge, featuring master classes and workshops dedicated to fostering dialogue between Arab filmmakers and their international counterparts.

The fest’s industry arm, the CineGouna Platform, will run Oct. 15-19.

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