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French Version

Cairo film festival offers no shortage of choice

Just after Carthage, at the same time as Marrakech, just before Dubai - the Cairo International Film Festival opened on Monday night in the midst of what has become a rather crowded schedule of cinema events across the region.

Cairo's festival, however, has the distinction of being one of the oldest in the Middle East - it is now in its 30th year, compared to the International Film Festival of Marrakech, which is six, and the Dubai International Film Festival, which is three. (Only the Carthage Film Festival is older, having been established in 1966 as a biannual event).

Over the next 10 days, well over 100 films are screening in four venues throughout Cairo. Veteran actor Omar Sharif is this year's honorary president, the guest of honor is Latin America, and there is a spotlight on Catalan cinema, along with tributes to Danny Glover, Jacqueline Bisset and Argentinean actor Luis Puenzo.

The Cairo festival has taken some flak lately for going international at the expense of Arab cinema. So this year, in addition to the straightforward international competition (18 films), there is another competition for Arab cinema (11 films, with prize money worth $17,000) and yet another competition for digital feature films (10 films, the golden and silver awards worth $10,000 and $6,000, respectively).

Then there is a special section devoted to Arabs in international cinema, a showcase on Arab cinema from 2005 and the second coming of the "panorama" on Lebanese cinema, which features exactly four films: Philippe Aractingi's "Bosta," Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige's "A Perfect Day," Bahij Hojeij's "La Ceinture de Feu" from three years ago and Ghassan Salhab's four-year-old "Terra Incognita" (one wonders why his 2002 feature has been selected over his 2006 film "The Last Man").

Several of the selections screening out-of-competition may also be a bit past their sell-by date but with so many sections and so films, there's certainly no shortage of choice.

Beirut,12 04 2006
The Daily Star
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