There is no doubt that organizing an international film festival during the current sociopolitical situation in Egypt is a great challenge security wise and logistically. But the management of the Luxor African Film Festival (LAFF), led by scriptwriter Sayed Fouad, the Festival president, and Azza Al-Husseini, its director, has succeeded in overcoming all these challenges until the third edition, which was held from 18 to 24 March, wrapped up in success. All of the two-hundred who attended the festival, whether they were African or Egyptian filmmakers or regional and international media, noted that the Festival progresses to be the most important event held within the African continent competing with Durban Festival in South Africa, and FESPACO in Burkina Faso.
LAFF is not only a platform to show African classic or modern film but it aspires to interact with the community of the historical city Luxor through many events and workshops. On the opening night that held within the Luxor Temple, the Festival received the American star Danny Glover and his Brazilian spouse Eliane Cavalleiro, an appearance that gave a positive image about Egypt and its cultural and touristic importance. After receiving a life achievement trophy, Glover spoke about the history of Africa and the Ancient Egyptian civilization and how they are still aspiring artists till now. A show of the opening film The Children's Republic starring Glover and directed by the Bissau-Guinean Flora Comes who gave a fictional vision of an African country ruled of children and young people after it went empty of adults due to conflicts and disputes. Gomes is a world renowned director belongs who rarely travels to festivals and prefers to write new films or documents the daily political events in his country. The highlight of the Festival is also the filmmaking workshop led by Ethiopian director Haile Gerima who teaches cinema in Washington but comes to Luxor every year to share his knowledge with 40 African and Egyptian film students. Near the end of the LAFF, the workshops succeeded to compete more than 15 short films that predict the birth of a new generation of African filmmakers with new insights on the concerns of their mother continent.
In the same framework to support young filmmakers from Africa, Al-Husseini, the founder of Etisal Fund, an initiative by the Festival, succeeded to sign co-production protocols with twenty-seven foundations and film companies from Europe, Africa and the Arab world in order to support African short films with a capital of 100 thousand dollars. The aim of Etisal to produce ten films, documentaries and short fiction during the year, with a budget of 4 to 10 thousand dollars per movie.
The film that got the attention by the attending media was The Pardon, by Rwandan filmmaker Joel Karakezi who tells a story, based on his own experience, of Manzi and Karemera the two best friends who seem to be inseparable until the inexorable forces of history and violence tear them apart. After the death of Rwanda's Hutu president, their country plunges into ethnic civil war. Manzi needed to choose between friendship and family, while Karemera pays the horrific price. Fifteen years later, news of Manzi's release from prison throws Karemera's life into chaos. Karemera attempts to return his childhood friend to prison, while Manzi struggles with his own guilt. The Pardon succeeded to get the Nile Prize for Best Feature Film.
The Festival made many reach out workshops to involve children and youngsters of Luxor with the art of cinema. There were two animations projects held at the Luxor Faculty of Fine Arts and another at its Public Library.
With the the success of this edition, the Festival hopes to complete linking Egyptian filmmaking with its African counterpart and perhaps the emergence of a co-production between Egypt and the countries of the north and south of the Sahara.