Irish director Mark Cousins honoured during the opening of the Ismailia International Film Festival for Documentaries and Shorts (IIFF) 24th edition, Tuesday 14 March 2023, Ismailia
Running until 20 March, the IIFF is screening over 120 films from 50 different countries in its competitions and parallel programmes. Germany has been named as the guest of honour for this edition, which is focused on hybrid films that blend multiple genres.
During the opening ceremony, special tributes were paid to the late Egyptian filmmaker Samih Mansi, as well as to film critic Mahmoud Ali, DOP Mahmoud Abdel-Samie and Irish director Mark Cousins. The latter has expressed excitement at being in Egypt and mentioned in his speech some iconic Egyptian artists who have inspired him, including singer Oum Kalthoum, architect Hassan Fathy, and filmmakers Shadi Abdel Salam and Youssef Chahine.
The festival’s juries consist of acclaimed filmmakers and critics. The documentary competitions are judged by German filmmaker Cécile TolluPolonowski, South Korean Visual artist Kyung Hwa Lee, Jordanian filmmaker Mais Darwazah, as well as professors Majid Movasseghi (Switzerland) and Salma Mubarak (Egypt). The feature and animation film competitions’ jury comprises Latvian animator Signe Baumane, French film festival expert Anne Sophie Jacques, Greek film festival expert Vassilis C. Karamitsanis, Algerian film festival expert Nabila Razaig, and Egyptian filmmaker Nadine Khan.
The opening film of the festival was a restored version of Daoud Abdel-Sayed's The Will of a Wise Man in Village and Education Affairs, which was screened on Tuesday.
In addition to film screenings, the festival is also hosting numerous seminars, workshops, and masterclasses.
Egyptian critic Essam Zakaria has been appointed as the president of the festival for the fifth time, taking over from director Saad Hendawy, who led the 23rd edition in 2022. He previously served as the president of the festival for four consecutive editions, from the 19th to the 22nd.
Established in 1991, the IIFF is the first festival of its kind in the Arab World. It is organised under the auspices of the culture ministry's National Cinema Centre, which is currently led by film-editor Manar Hosny.
Visitors can reach the city of Ismailia, located on the Suez Canal 100km east of the capital Cairo, by public or private transportation. Hotels and resorts in and around the city offer various budget-friendly deals to accommodate attendees.