The Jury of the Feature Narrative Competition, composed of Sarah Johnson (Film Producer, USA, Jury President) Mark Adams (Artistic Director, Film Critic, United Kingdom); Lyes Salem (Actor, Film Director, Algeria); David D'Arcy (Journalist, Film Critic, United Kingdom); and Ossama Fawzi (Film Director, Egypt) had enthusiastically accepted the challenging responsibility of viewing 15 feature length narrative films and choosing the winners in the category.
For “its beautiful portrayal of a mother and wife treading the fine line between genius and madness of neglect and hostility” the top prize in the category, El Gouna Gold Star for Feature Narrative Film was awarded to SCARY MOTHER. The talented director, Ana Urushadze “gave depth to all the characters of the film” and the jury found all aspects of this film to be “outstanding”. A thrilled Ana Urushadze was present at the closing ceremony to receive the festival’s top prize along with her actors Dimitri Tatishvili, Nata Murvanidze.
The second prize in the category, El Gouna Silver Star for Feature Narrative film was bagged by acclaimed director from Ziad Doueri for his film THE INSULT for “its portrayal of the delicate balance of personalities reflecting a larger history through the prism of a minor incident”. Doueri who was present at the time of the screening of his film had soon thereafter left for Beirut to attend to his prior engagements. Before he left, however, he received the Variety Award for Best Arab Director of the year from eminent film critics and journalists Nick Vivarelli and Jay Weissberg.
For “its portrayal of a husband and wife struggling through their personal and professional lives to find the truth in their relationship” the El Gouna Bronze Star for Feature Narrative film was awarded to ARRHYTHMIA directed by Boris Khlebnikov from Russia.
The announcement of the winner of the El Gouna Star for Best Arab Feature Narrative that went to PHOTOCOPY directed by Tamer Ashry was received with a thunderous applause from the audience of the GFF closing ceremony. The large delegation of the film that was present at the closing ceremony celebrated the announcement with warm hugs to each other and congratulatory handshakes all around. The jury was moved by the “touching portrayal of a man in his twilight years looking for meaning and love in his life and the importance of community” in the story that the film told.
The El Gouna Star for Best Actor of a film in the feature narrative competition was awarded to Daniel Gimenez Cacho from the film ZAMA directed by Lucrecia Martel, Argentina. The jury appreciated his performance for the “modest tension that it displayed throughout the film that touched on human truth during a classic period in history”.
The El Gouna Star for Best Actress was awarded to Nadia Kounda, from the film VOLUBILIS directed by Faouzi Bensaidi from Morocco, for her “fresh and playful portrayal of a wife in a film that questions society in action”. Nadia was present to receive the award herself.
12 cutting edge non-fiction films made by international directors competed for the awards in the Feature Documentary Competition. The jury comprised Deborah Young (Journalist, Film Critic, Screenwriter, USA, Jury President); Sitora Alieva (Film Curator, Russia); Tamer Karawan (Composer, Egypt); Subniv Babuta (Broadcaster, Documentary Film-Maker, Writer, United Kingdom) and Sean McAllister (Film Director, United Kingdom).
The top prize in the category El Gouna Gold Star was won by I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO directed by Raoul Peck, for its “defiant, riveting and powerful outcry against racial hatred that has shamefully outlasted America’s civil rights era”.
The second prize in the category, El Gouna Silver Star was won by BRIMSTONE & GLORY directed by Viktor Jakovleski. The jury was impressed by its “thrilling, visually explosive celebration of a community’s rite of passage”. The prize was received by Viktor Jakovleski and co-producer of the film Kellen Quinn who attended the festival and the closing ceremony,
For its “discomfiting, visceral and unremitting examination of the process of dying” the El Gouna Bronze Star for Feature Documentary Film was awarded to MRS. FANG directed by well-known film maker Wang Bing from China. Fang Xiuying was a farmer born in Huzhou, Fujian in 1948, who suffered from Alzheimer’s for the last eight years of her life. The film follows her ordeal first in 2015, and then in 2016 during the last ten days of her life.
El Gouna Star for Best Arab Feature Documentary was awarded to Egyptian film I HAVE A PICTURE: FILM NUMBER 1001 IN THE LIFE OF THE OLDEST EXTRA IN THE WORLD for “its humor and its unique, self-reflexive exploration of the unsung history of Egyptian cinema”. Mohamed Zedan the director of the film received the award at the closing ceremony for his film which had its World Premiere at GFF.
The Mentor Arabia Award for best documentary was awarded to SOUFRA directed by Thomas Morgan, who was pleasantly surprised that his film also bagged the Cinema for Humanity Audience Award. SOUFRA follows the unlikely and wildly inspirational story of intrepid social entrepreneur, Mariam Shaar – a generational refugee who has spent her entire life in the 65-year-old Burj El Barajneh refugee camp just south of Beirut, Lebanon. The screening of the film at GFF was the first ever public screening of the film and Mariam, the protagonist of the film, who was also present at the festival and the closing ceremony along with the director was delighted that the film touched the Mentor Arabia jury and the public alike.
The Jury of the Short Film Competition, composed of Nelly Karim (Actor, Egypt, Jury President), Najwa Najjar (Film Director, Palestine); Ali Mostafa (Film Director, UAE); Anissa Daoud (Producer, Actress, Tunisia) and Nina Rodriguez (Film Curator, Mexico), unanimously decided the winners of the awards from among the 18 shorts films that were nominated in the category.
For “its brilliant use of cinema, that allows viewers to witness an original coming of age film wrapped in the current refugee crisis” the top prize in the short film category, the El Gouna Gold Star was awarded to NIGHTSHADE (NACHTSCHADE) directed by Shady El-Hamus from Netherlands.
El Gouna Silver Star for short film was awarded to MERRY-GO-ROUND (LALAY-BALALAY) directed by Ruslan Bratov from Russia. The jurors’ motivation for awarding this film was “its hilariously told story that depicted an intoxicating friendship that keep the characters and its viewers spinning for safety”.
El Gouna Bronze Star for Short Film in competition was awarded to Franco-Belge-Sengalese production MAMA BOBO directed jointly by Robin Luc Andelfinger and Ibrahima Seydi. “This film showed us a strong African community and how one person’s repetitive journey is the only thing that keeps them going” said the jurors while awarding the film. The award was received by Ibrahima Seydi, co-director of the film that had its world premiere at GFF.
For “its quick delivery and performance, and a comic take on the criminal world” the El Gouna Star for Best Arab Short Film was won by PUNCHLINE, directed by Christophe M. Saber, a Swiss national of Egyptian origin.
The Film Factory Award for the Best Short Film went to BAGHDAD PHOTOGRAPHER (MOSAWER BAGHDAD) directed by Mejd Hameed from Iraq. “In 3 minutes, this filmmaker was able to capture the first moments of a budding love to its loss reflecting both human and his country pain. We hope this award will help him in capturing more moments in his promising future”. Mejd Hameed, thanked the festival and Film Factory for encouraging him by choosing his film as the winner of this award.