Cairo Film Festival turns sour as Egypt Syria withdraw films

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The producers and directors of the Egyptian film “In Search of Sand and Oil” have withdrawn from this year’s Cairo International Film Festival, in order to show solidarity with protests against President Mohammed Mursi in the iconic Tahrir Square and across the country.

One of the directors of the Egyptian film told the local al-Ahram newspaper that the films were withdrawn in protest against security force brutality against the protesters in Tahrir Square.

Director Wael Omar said in a statement: “I refuse to participate in a film festival associated with the ministry of culture when the Egyptian government is attacking citizens on the streets as they voice their disagreement with Mursi’s undemocratic and unprecedented Constitutional Declaration, which placed him as a dictator,” the Egyptian news site Bikya Misr quoted him as saying.

Two Syrian films have already been withdrawn from the festival in the light of the crisis in their country.

The festival was scheduled to take place on Tuesday, but is yet to kick off.

It looks as though the 35th annual Cairo International Film Festival may be cancelled for the second time in three years, as the festival organizers announced on Monday that the festival “may be postponed indefinitely, but if calm remains, we will try to start on Wednesday.”

On Tuesday, activists gathered in Tahrir Square to decry a decree issued by Mursi and a sit-in continues calling for his resignation. There have been tens of sit-ins since Mursi announced the presidential decree, which led to charges from critics that he had granted himself power above the rule of law.

If the Cairo Film Festival is to go ahead then screenings will be held from Nov. 28 to Dec. 7.

Among protesters in Cairo, Egyptian celebrities, including actors, actresses and musicians, came out in support of the anti-government unrest.
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