What To Watch At El Gouna Film Festival

18 September 2019
El Gouna Film Festival, The Knight And The Princess, Oualid Mouaness, Arab films, Papicha

Our selection of the films generating buzz on the festival circuit

Fresh from the success of two Arab films at TIFF this week, Egypt’s Al Gouna film Festival begins Thursday 19 September.

Across the week-long event, there will be 80 feature length and short films shown as part of the programme. The third edition of the Red Sea set festival, 2019’s line up of pictures includes 16 international films that have already won a Palme d’Or (Cannes), two silver Bears (Berlin) and a Crystal Globe (Karlovy Film Festival, Czech Republic).

This year’s opening picture, James Gray’s Ad Astra, is an existential space odyssey that stars Brad Pitt and Liv Tyler.

But that’s the only reason to keep an eye on this festival. The real reason is the host of independent talent on show, including the debut film from Oualid Mouaness, 1982.

The story of a school boy determined to declare his love to a classmate as war breaks out changing both their lives forever, it’s a semi-autobiographical story based on Mouaness’ own childhood. The film features Nadine Labaki in a supporting role, having squeezed her shooting days in between making her Cannes hit Capernaum. 1982 was awarded the Netpac award at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Moroccan filmmaker Maryam Touzani’s exploration of female friendship and motherhood, Adam, tackles taboo subjects and features standout performances by Lubna Azabal (Abla) and Nisrin Erradi (Samia).

Algerian-French director Mounia Meddour’s drama Papicha, about a young woman trying to retain her freedom in an increasingly repressive 1990s Algeria. Both this and Adam premiered at Un Certain Regard (Cannes) this year.

Outside of the competitive sections, other highlights include the out of competition screening of Egypt’s first feature-length animation The Knight And The Princess. Written and directed by Bashir El-Deek, with art work by cartoonist Mustafa Hussein, it is an adventure tale inspired by a real-life seventh century Arab warrior.

Make a note of these films, because they’re must see.