Spain and Belgium winners at Cairo film fest

A Golden Pyramid for Spain, Silver for Belgium


International and Arab film stars walked the red carpet under a display of fireworks as Cairo’s 32nd International Film Festival drew to a close Friday night and prizes were handed out at the Egyptian Opera House followed by an exclusive bash at two of Cairo’s top hotels.

This year’s CIFF brought together the largest number of international stars, movie directors and producers in an effort to forge new links between world cultures and film industries.

“This is certainly a great international festival that compares with the Cannes Festival and Venice Festival of Film,” remarked Director Jan Verheyen to The Belgium director was the winner of several prizes including the Silver Pyramid award for second best film 'Cut Loose'.

“A spectacular red carpet event, everybody is beautifully dressed and of course it is nice to get a prize,” he added with a laugh.

'Return to Hansala' directed by Chus Buitierrez and starring Moroccan Spanish actress Farah Hamed, was the star film of CIFF, winning the Golden Pyramid award for best film in addition to the FIPRICIE Prize.

Farah Hamid who played the role of Leila, a Moroccan woman who loses her brother in an illegal immigration attempt to Spain, expressed her happiness for winning a double prize in one evening.

“Return to Hansala is my first major role in cinema and I am very glad to see that it merited this much praise from a distinguished international film festival like Cairo’s,” she told

The thrill of victory was also evident in the words of Spanish Director Chus Buitierrez: “it is certainly an honour to win a double prize for best film in one evening from CIFF and FIPRESCI Prize.” She said to

Mexican interest in Naguib Mahfuz

Another highlight in the prize filled evening was the Lifetime Achievement award, which went to Mexican director Arturo Ripstein whose 1958 Naguib Mahfuz inspired film 'The Beginning and the End' was adapted from the Nobel prize winner’s novel about the domestic trials that lead a woman to a life of prostitution.

“There is no market for Mexican films in Egypt, so this prize does show that the Jury of CIFF are aware of film industries around the world, which underscores the aims of CIFF to bring together global understanding of cultures though film,” said Ripstein.

CIFF creates a Market for European films

The prize for Best Actress went to French actress Yolande Moreau for her role in 'Seraphine' directed by Martin Provost, while Juan Diego Botto won Best Actor for his role in 'El Greco' for director Yannis Smaragdis.

French director Martin Provost told that although 'Seraphine' was awarded a prize at CIFF, the film industry needs to create a market for non-American Hollywood international films in the Middle East.

“The role of CIFF is crucial in creating a market for non-American films in the Middle East. Egypt is known as the ‘Hollywood of the (Middle) East’, so it has the potential to create viewer interest in European film industry”

The monopoly of American films is a global problem facing all non-American film industries, said Belgium director Jan Verheyen.

“If you look at all film industries around the world, you will see that 6 of the top 10 films are American and the rest are local films,” he told

“It simply shows that non-American film industries have to work harder to create a market for other films. I am confident that this will happen with more international film festivals like this one.”

Some 14 films from 10 countries participated in this year’s International Competition Feature Films, including two from Spain, two from France and one Arabic Egyptian film When We met directed by Ismael Murad.

Egyptian Film 'Basra' directed by Ahmed Rashwan beat out 14 films to win best film prize in the Arab Feature Film Competition.