Interview: Egypt's El Gouna Film Festival big success under anti-coronavirus measures: manager

HURGHADA, Egypt, Oct. 30 (Xinhua) -- The organization of the fourth edition of Egypt's El Gouna Film Festival (GFF) was a big success under the preventative measures against COVID-19, Intishal al-Tamimi, the GFF's manager, told Xinhua.

Al-Tamimi, also a prominent Iraqi filmmaker, said the repercussion of the global spread of the coronavirus posed a big challenge to the organization of the GFF.

"This year was the most difficult, not only for us but for all humanity. I believe we never met a challenge like this one as the pandemic halted flights and economies all over the world over the past six months," the GFF's manager said.

As one of the leading festivals in the Middle East region, the GFF aims to showcase a wide variety of films for a passionate and knowledgeable audience, while fostering better communication between cultures through the art of filmmaking.

The fourth edition of the GFF opened on Oct. 23 in Egypt's Red Sea resort town of El Gouna with tight anti-COVID-19 preventive measures in place.

The festival, scheduled to close on Oct. 31, has and will screen about 65 films, including 11 world premieres.

It has also managed to attract the best titles from around the world, some of which were present in Venice, Toronto and San Sebastian film festivals.

"This edition put us in another place, because we are among just a few film festivals around the world which have organized physical editions since the outbreak of the pandemic," al-Tamimi said, noting many international film festivals were either postponed, cancelled or switched to online screening because of the pandemic.

Regarding the health measures adopted by the GFF to avoid coronavirus infections, al-Tamimi said no one is allowed to move at the festival's premises without wearing a medical face mask, adding all GFF's facilities are well sanitized.

"All foreign invitees were tested before they came. They will have another test two or three days before they leave back home," the manager revealed.

The red carpet was designed in a way that helped maintain social distancing, with the festival's opening ceremony held in a new location twice bigger than the one used in the past three editions, he said.

"The festival's management has prepared two open-air cinemas for screening in order to avoid congestion in closed places," he noted.

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