Peter Webber Set As Jury Prez Of Egypt’s El Gouna, Middle East’s First Major Physical Fest In COVID Era

Peter Webber
Peter Webber AP

EXCLUSIVE: Egypt’s El Gouna Film Festival (October 23-30), the Middle East’s first sizeable COVID-era physical film event, has set Peter Webber (Girl With A Pearl Earring) as jury president.

Gérard Depardieu will receive the festival’s Career Achievement Award and actor Said Taghmaoui (La Haine) will received the Omar Sharif Award.

Hannibal Rising and Emperor director Webber told us: “It has been a difficult year for many and especially those of us in the film industry, yet it is important to remember that it is our work that has been keeping so many people entertained, inspired and engaged as they were trapped in their homes or struggling during the biggest pandemic in living memory.

“Therefore it’s a great delight and a privilege to be invited to be president of the jury at El Gouna Film Festival, a festival that will celebrate the importance of film at this crucial time. It’s a festival with a proud humanitarian spirit, and one that  brings people from many different cultures, faiths, and perspectives together, all united by a common passion for film making.
“This festival will honor and recognize the rising stars of the medium with the CineGouna Platform, and will celebrate films that received recognition and awards earlier this year at Berlinale, Cannes, Venice and San Sebastian.”

The fourth edition of the festival, which moved from its early September dates due to the pandemic, will feature movies including Thomas Vinterberg’s Cannes 2020 label title Another Round, Viggo Mortensen’s Sundance hit Falling, Venice titles Oasis and The Whaler Boy, Berlin Special Silver Bear winner Delete History and Bad Tales, which won a Silver Bear for best screenplay. Opener will be Kaouther Ben Hania’s Venice drama The Man Who Sold His Skin.

Webber will preside over the Feature Narrative Competition with Egyptian actor Asser Yassin (Messages From The Sea) among jury members. Six awards will be given out in the Competition with four cash prizes worth a total of $110,000.

The Shorts Film Competition will be judged by Death On The Nile actor Ali Fazal (Victoria & Abdul), Tunisian director Raja Amari (Buried Secrets),Cairo-based Syrian actor Kinda Alloush (Escaping Tel Aviv) and Argentine filmmaker Santiago Amigorena. The jury who will be awarding $31,000 in prize money to four directors.

The Feature Documentary Competition will be juried by documentary filmmaker Marianne Khoury (Let’s Talk), producer Marie Pierre Macia, producer Thierry Lenovel and documentary filmmaker Simon El Habre. The competition will include Banksy Most Wanted, Berlin title Irradiated and Days Of Cannibalism

The festival’s CineGouna Platform for Egyptian and Arab filmmakers will be awarding more than $180,000 in cash prizes at its CineGouna Platform Awards ceremony on October 29, 2020. Industry events will largely be held online.

A festival spokesperson detailed the event’s planned COVID protocols for us: “As annual sponsors of Venice Intl’ Film Festival’s Final Cut, El Gouna will be following similar protocols Venice successfully implemented this year. The main theaters have been moved as outdoor venues and will run at 50% capacity with four different entrances. On-site contactless thermometer checks will be provided at entrances, those with temperatures of 100F and above will not be admitted. Additionally, there will be a 90-minute gap between screenings to thoroughly disinfect and sanitize the venues. Face masks are required at all times and social distancing rules will be maintained. Festival venues will always have hand sanitizer and face masks available on site. The red carpet areas have been increased by 30 meters. Almost all paper material has been transferred to electronic format. At departure from Egypt, all foreign guests will be given a PCR tests & certificates sponsored by the festival.”

A full run-down of the comprehensive protocols were published locally last month.

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