The third edition of the El Gouna Film Festival has opened its curtains in Egypt.
More than 200 movie stars and filmmakers made an appearance on the red carpet, including Canadian-Egyptian actor Mena Massoud, who is best known for playing the lead role in the recent Disney remake of Aladdin.
“This is really the whole point of a festival like this, to show the rest of the world how much talent and how much our film industry has grown," he told Euronews’ Daleen Hassan. “We celebrate American films but we also celebrate films from the North African and Middle Eastern region and it’s my hope that festivals like this can show the world how much talent, ambition and execution we have. “
Running from 19 to 27 September, the event will showcase 84 films, representing a total of 41 different countries.
Amongst this year’s selection are films which already showed in international film festivals such as Toronto, Venice and San Sebastian. However, most films are being screened in the MENA region for the first time and 14 world premieres are expected.
The aim is to put the festival on the international map, according to COO and co-founder Bushra Rozza.
“We collaborate with different international organisations, like UNICEF for example this year. We’re working hard we are trying to catch up with the world and to put ourselves with very solid steps on the map,” she said.
Tunisian actress and member of this year’s jury Dorra Zarrouk expressed the importance of such festival for the region in upcoming years.
“We need festivals like this in the Arab region and the Middle East because we are in favour of promoting cinema,” she said. “Also, it gives us hope [for the future], there are many young people working in this festival.
This edition of GFF will also honour big names of Arab cinema, including Palestinian director and producer Mai Masri. During the opening ceremony, Masri received a Career Achievement Award for her lifelong dedication to cinema.
Despite being one of the newest film festivals in the region, the El Gouna Film Festival is not only bringing emerging talent to the spotlight, but also allowing Hollywood and local filmmakers to unite and share experiences, especially at a time when cultural exchanges are in need.