The small theater of Cairo Opera House seemed packed as the audiences were watching a group of short films starting with China’s Poem for a Distant Village, which is one of the 22 works contesting in the International Short Film Competition in the 43rd edition of Cairo International Film Festival (CIFF).
Directed by Liu Bing, the 30-minute fiction, which makes its world premiere at CIFF, tells a story of a producer who has to cancel a film project due to the COVID-19 outbreak and returns to his native village with the director and cinematographer. The village life amid the crisis inspires them to make another film about childhood and death.
“It tells about a very important period we all have gone through, which is the COVID-19 lockdown,” Sami Creta, a program manager at Alexandria’s Jesuit Cultural Center, told Xinhua.
He highlighted the importance of the participation of films “from an ancient culture like China” in CIFF.
Among the films screened in the same program was Egyptian short film It’s Nothing Nagy, Just Hang up! by Youhanna Nagy, who expressed his admiration of the Chinese short film.
Besides the inspiring storyline, Nagy said he admired the Chinese film’s cinematography as well as the sound effects that show “the Chinese director’s awareness that the sound represents half the quality of the film.”
In a movie theater in downtown Cairo, an Egyptian young woman seemed relaxed while watching A Chat, a Chinese feature film screened during the festival.
“The film has put me in a peaceful mood. Its pace is perfect and the faces of the Chinese actresses and their costumes have made me feel so comfortable,” Eman el-Badry, a filmmaking student, said after watching the film.
Written and directed by Wang Xide and starring Ying Ze and Mu Ruini, the film was screened under the International Panorama section of CIFF 43, outside the official competitions, among 15 films from different countries including Lebanon, Germany, France, Sweden and Spain.
A Chat is a story about three generations of women in a southern Chinese family, including Gu Qing, a quiet tailor in her 30s who lives in a small town on her own. Her life is dull, until one day her niece Sun Yue comes from afar to learn sewing from her.
“I love China and when the Chinese do something, they make it excellent,” the Egyptian student said.
The 43rd CIFF, which screens over 100 films from more than 60 countries, has four main competitions, including the international competition for feature fiction and documentary films, and the international short film competition.
Egyptian veteran movie star Hussein Fahmy, who was CIFF president for four years, hailed the Chinese cinema industry and said he visited Shanghai International Film Festival (SIFF) twice and established close cooperation between CIFF and SIFF.
“The Chinese films are good and the cinema industry in China, as I saw in the studios I visited there, is very advanced,” the renowned Egyptian actor told Xinhua.
For his part, CIFF President Mohamed Hefzy said that the festival pays great attention to the participation of Chinese films, noting that the Chinese cinema industry now competes with Hollywood cinema in terms of box office revenues.
The 43rd CIFF kicked off on Nov. 26 and will conclude on Dec. 5.