Roundup: Palestinian film "Alam" wins top award at Cairo Int'l Film Festival


CAIRO, Nov. 23 (Xinhua) -- Palestinian film Alam, directed by Palestinian filmmaker Firas Khoury and co-funded by producers from France, Tunisia, Palestine, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, won the top Golden Pyramid Award for Best Film at the 44th Cairo International Film Festival (CIFF) concluded here on Tuesday evening.

The feature, which won the top prize in the 14-film International Competition, tells the story of five Palestinian high-school classmates who live in Israel and struggle under the weight of being forced to forget their own history.

French producer Naomie Lagadec, who received the Golden Pyramid on behalf of the director, said that she was "so proud" that Alam was named the best at CIFF.

"CIFF is an important festival in the MENA (the Middle East and North Africa) region and the world. So, this is wonderful," the French co-producer of Alam told Xinhua.

She said she believes the film sends a message that "we should listen to the youth because they are the future."

"It's the film's first screening in the MENA region, so it's really important to be here in the competition and to have great exposure to the Arab countries," Lagadec added.

Not only did Alam win the Golden Pyramid, but its actor Mahmoud Bakri also shared the 44th CIFF's Best Actor Award with Sudanese actor Maher El Khair for his role in The Dam, directed by Ali Cherri. The film crew of Alam left Cairo with three awards after also winning the Audience Award, a cash prize.

The Silver Pyramid Award, Special Jury Award for Best Director, went to French filmmaker Emmanuelle Nicot for her Love According to Dalva, starring young French actress Zelda Samson who also won the Best Actress Award.

The Bronze Pyramid Award for Best First or Second Work was presented to Polish filmmaker Damian Kocur for his Bread and Salt.

Also in the official competition, Japanese film A Man, directed by Kei Ishikawa, won Naguib Mahfouz Award for Best Screenplay, while Henry Barakat Award for Best Artistic Contribution went to Mostafa El Kashef, cinematographer of Egyptian film 19 B, directed by Ahmad Abdalla.

Egyptian veteran movie star Hussein Fahmy, the CIFF's president, said he was happy with the success of the 44th edition of the CIFF and the high turnout of the audience during the 10-day festival, which saw the screening of over 100 films from more than 50 countries.

"The turnout was very high, especially from young people and students. We provided tickets online and our box office here was full all the time, and the media was strongly present. I believe we've achieved a lot of goals in this CIFF," the CIFF president told Xinhua on the red carpet during the closing ceremony.

"This edition went as well as I wished, and sometimes even better," Fahmy added.

Outside the official sections, several featured and short films won honorary and jury prizes, including Lebanese-French production Mother Valley by Carlos Chahine, Lebanese-Qatari film Riverbed by Bassem Breche, American short film Rosemary A.D. (After Dad) by Ethan Barrett and Egyptian short film My Girlfriend by Kawthar Younis.

Younis said the audience's positive response was her first prize for the screening of her film, and winning the Special Jury Award in the Short Film Competition "was such a great thing that is still unbelievable to me."

Polish film programmer Dorota Lech, one of the jury members for the Best Arab Film Award, which was won by Mother Valley, said that the 13 competing Arab films were all impressive and of high quality, describing her experience in CIFF as "completely magical."

She added that such festivals allow filmmakers to meet and learn from one another and create opportunities for potential multinational projects in the industry.

The closing ceremony, held at Egypt's Cairo Opera House, was attended by Egyptian Minister of Culture Nevin Al-Kilany and hundreds of Egyptian and foreign filmmakers, movie stars, producers, critics, and other guests.

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