Cairo International Film Festival

The Cairo International Film Festival (Arabic: مهرجان القاهرة السينمائي الدولي‎) is an annual internationally accredited film festival held in Cairo Opera House. It was established in 1976 and has taken place every year since its inception, except for 2011 and 2013, when it was cancelled due to budget limitations and political instability.[1][2]

Cairo International Film Festival
مهرجان القاهرة السينمائي الدولي
Cairo International Film Festival.jpg
CIFF Opening Ceremony.jpg
LocationCairo, Egypt
Founded16 August 1976
AwardsGolden Pyramid Award, Silver Pyramid, Bronze Pyramid, Naguib Mahfouz Award, Henry Barakat Award, Faten Hamama Award
Artistic directorMohamed Hefzy
No. of films40 in 2018

It is the only international competitive feature film festival recognized by the FIAPF in the Arab world and Africa, as well as the oldest in this category. The 40th edition took place from 20–29 November 2018.


CIFF Red Carpet

The Cairo International Film Festival (CIFF) is one of only 15 Festivals accorded as a category "A" status by the International Federation of Film Producers Associations FIAPF. It is the oldest and only internationally accredited cultural feature film festival in the Arab World, Africa and the Middle East.

CIFF was launched in 1976 by the writer-critic Kamal el-Mallakh to enhance the role of Egypt in the world of filmmaking and cinema and to serve as a bridge between the cultures of the world.

Egypt has enjoyed a strong cinematic tradition since the art of film making was first developed, in 1896. Egypt is famously called Hollywood of the East[3] among the Arab World for its long reputable filmmaking history of more than 120 years, wide-reach to more than 400 million Arab speakers and inhabitants in the Middle East, and strong influence on all the Arab Nation by its Art production of thousands of Film Pictures, Series, Theatre Plays and Music. It is common and very well known since the rising of filmmaking industry in early 1920s in Egypt that any aspiring Arab artist of any related art field has to fly to Cairo to be able to reach and make it to the whole Arab World.

Now briefly and in short, the history of CIFF goes back to 1975, after a visit to the Berlin Film Festival the late writer-critic Kamal El Mallakh and a group of like-minded cinema critics wondered why such a world-class festival couldn't take place in Egypt. The country was still riding the crest of Egyptian cinema's golden age and contained a formidable film industry, still the biggest in the Arab world. The Cairo International Film Festival was launched in 1976.[4]

The 1976 festival featured around 100 films from 33 countries, with 14 films from 14 different countries in competition. In an effort to celebrate the best international cinema, the Cairo International Film Festival has proven its daring and versatility year after year and continues to act as a meeting point not only for filmmakers and critics but also for writers, intellectuals and other artists.

The Egyptian Association of Film Writers and Critics headed the festival for the first seven years until 1983. In the following year, the Union of Artist's Syndicates supervised the festival, and after that point, several associations mustered their resources to run the festival. The Egyptian Association of Film Writers and Critics joined with the Ministry of Culture and the Union of Artist's Syndicates to form a joint committee in 1985 to improve the quality and financial state of the festival.


The highest and most prestigious award given at CIFF is the Golden Pyramid Award awarded for Best Picture.[5]

Silver Pyramid and Bronze Pyramid Awards go to the Best Director and Best New Director respectively.

The Best Screenplay award is named after the Nobel Prize winner Naguib Mahfouz.

The festival also offers career achievement awards named after iconic Egyptian actress Faten Hamama.

The International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI) Awards are announced at the closing ceremony of the festival.

The festival offers awards in specialized categories as well:

  • The Horizons of Arab Cinema Competition, presented by the Egyptian Filmmakers Syndicate (EFMS), offers the Saad Eldin Wahba Award for Best Arabic Film and the Salah Abu Seif Award for Best Arab Artistic Contribution.
  • The International Critics Week Competition for Feature and Documentary Films, presented by the Egyptian Film Critics Association (EFCA), offers the Shadi Abdel Salam Award for Best Film, awarded to the Director, and the Fathy Farag Award for Best Artistic Contribution, both awards.
  • Cinema of Tomorrow, International Competition (CTIC) for Short Films offers the Youssef Chahine Award for Best Short Film, and The Special Jury Award.

Other Festival SectionsEdit

  • Festival of Festivals - Screening the most important, reviewed and awarded feature and documentary films that participated in other renowned prominent international film festivals as Cannes Film Festival, Berlin Film Festival, Venice Film Festival and others.
  • International Panorama - Screening different variety of international movies from all over the World.
  • New Egyptian Cinema - Screening new Egyptian Movies produced and premiered in 2016/17.
  • Feature Film Classics - Screening tens of international film Classics.
  • Film Tributes - Giving tribute and honoring international and local film icons.
  • Guest of Honor Film Week, from World Cinema - Screening films of a guest country, chosen annually in honoring World Cinema.

Notable Awards and HonoreesEdit

The Cairo International Film Festival, in its annual celebration and examination of the state of cinema in the world today, has awarded many Egyptian and internationally renowned actors, actresses, and directors. Special awards, such as the Best Arab Film Award, is awarded to the most exceptional regional films of the year.

Major award winnersEdit

Year Best Film (Golden Pyramid) Best Director Best Actor Best Actress
  The Object of Beauty   Michael Lindsay-Hogg
for The Object of Beauty
  Joaquim de Almeida
for Family Portrait
  Christiane Heinrich
for Suspicion
  Those Left Behind   Michael Apted
for Thunderheart
  Ole Lemmeke
for The Naked Trees
  Xiu Jingshuang
for Those Left Behind
      Curfew   Nabil Maleh
for The Extras
  Andrzej Seweryn
for Amok
  Marina Neyolova
for You Are My Only One
  Colonel Chabert   Yves Angelo
for Colonel Chabert
  Nour El-Sherif
for A Hot Night
  Laila Elwi
for More Love, Less Violence
  The Flor Contemplacion Story   Sergei Masloboischikov
for Josephine, the Singer and the Mice People
  Stephen Rea
for Citizen X
  Nora Aunor
for The Flor Contemplacion Story
  A Girl Called Apple   Pantelis Voulgaris
for Akropol
  Abu Bakr Ezzat
for The Woman and the Hatchet
  Julia Jäger
for Outside Time
    The Chambermaid on the Titanic   Bigas Luna
for The Chambermaid on the Titanic
  Davor Janjić
for Outsider
  Reem Al-Turki
for Ceremonial Wedding Dress
  Malli   Santosh Sivan
for Malli
  Paschalis Tsarouhas
for Vasiliki
  Mei Ting
for A Time to Remember
  A Major Inconvenience   Martin Šulík
for Prague Stories (Segment: "Pictures from the Visit")
  Mahmoud Abdel Aziz
for Pleasure Market
  Pegah Ahangarani
for The Girl in the Sneakers
  Sigh   Roch Stéphanik
for Stand-by
  Zhang Guoli
for Sigh
  Xu Fan
for Sigh
  Dominique Blanc
for Stand-by
  Pauline and Paulette   Sinișa Dragin
for Everyday God Kisses Us on the Mouth
  Paul Freeman
for Morlang
  Niki Karimi
for The Hidden Half
  The Last Blues   Mrinal Sen
for My Land
  Ahmed Zaki
for His Excellency the Minister
  Nandita Das
for My Land
  Katayoun Riahi
for The Last Supper
  The King   Liang Shan
for The Father
  Song Guofeng
for The Father
  Sandrine Kiberlain &
  Sylvie Testud
for Sole Sisters
  Guardians of the Clouds   Héctor Olivera
for Ay Juancito
  Adrián Navarro
for Ay Juancito
  Sofocles Peppas
for Dust
  Eszter Bagaméri
for Guarded Secrets
  Nelly Karim
for My Soul Mate
   Mother of Mine   Klaus Härö
for Mother of Mine
  Bujar Lako
for Magic Eye
  Maria Lundqvist
for Mother of Mine
  The Road   Khosro Masumi
for Somewhere Too Far
  Nicolás Mateo
for Speed Begets Oblivion
  Zhang Jingchu
for The Road
  Intimate Enemies   Florent Emilio Siri
for Intimate Enemies
  Albert Dupontel
for Intimate Enemies
  Marina Magro
for Opera
  Tatyana Lyutaeva
for Full Scope
  Return to Hansala   Pernille Fischer Christensen
for Dancers
  Juan Diego Botto
for El Greco
  Yolande Moreau
for Séraphine
  Letters to Father Jacob   Mona Achache
for The Hedgehog
  Fathy Abdel Wahab
for The Nile Birds
  Subrat Dutta
for Madholal Keep Walking
  Karolina Piechota
for Splinters
  Lust   Svetoslav Ovtcharov
for Voice Over
  Amr Waked &
  Alessandro Gassman
for The Father and the Foreigner
  Isabelle Huppert
for Copacabana
  Sawsan Badr
for Lust
   Rendez-vous in Kiruna   Marian Dziędziel
for The Fifth season of the Year
  Vanessa Di Quattro
for Breach in the Silence
  Melbourne   Khaled Abol Naga
for Eyes of a Thief
  Adèle Haenel
for Love at First Fight
  Mediterranea   Dagur Kari
for Virgin Mountain
  Koudous Seihon
for Mediterranea
  Louise Bourgoin
for I Am a Soldier
    Mimosas   Licínio Azevedo
for The Train of Salt and Sugar
  Shakib Ben Omar
for Mimosas
  Nahed El Sebai
for A Day for Women
  The Intruder   Laura Mora
for Killing Jesus
  Raouf Ben Amor
for Tunis By Night
  Diamand Bou Abboud
for Insyriated
  A Twelve-Year Night   Phuttiphong Aroonpheng
for Manta Ray
  Sergei Loznitsa
for Donbass
  Sherif Desoky
for Night/Ext
  Zsófia Szamosi
for One Day
  I Am No Longer Here   Bas Devos
for Ghost Tropic
  Juan Daniel Garcia Trevino
for I Am No Longer Here
  Judy Ann Santos
for Mindanao
International actors awarded include

Marcello Mastroianni, Catherine Deneuve, John Malkovich, Elizabeth Taylor, Morgan Freeman, Sivaji Ganesan, Samuel L. Jackson, Sophia Loren, Claudia Cardinale, Leslie Caron, Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, Gina Lollobrigida, Peter O'Toole, Omar Sharif, Ornella Muti, Victoria Abril, Shashi Kapoor, Alain Delon, Nicolas Cage, Goldie Hawn, Kurt Russell, Greta Scacchi, Julia Ormond, Mira Sorvino, Khalid Abdalla, Alicia Silverstone, Priscilla Presley, Stuart Townsend, Yolande Moreau, Christopher Lee, Irene Papas, Nora Aunor, Bud Spencer, Tom Berenger, Salma Hayek, Lucy Liu, Juliette Binoche, Dominique Blanc, Charlize Theron, Hilary Swank and Adrien Brody.

Internationally renowned directors awarded include

Robert Wise, Elia Kazan, Vanessa Redgrave, Oliver Stone, Roland Joffe, Carlos Saura, Ismail Merchant, Moustapha Akkad, and Michelangelo Antonioni.

Honored people and films include

The CIFF 2004 Best Arab Film Award was given to an Egyptian film, Inas El-Degheidy's 'Searching for Freedom.'

In 2005 the CIFF honored its two star guests, American actor Morgan Freeman and French actress Leslie Caron. There was a screening of American actor and director Clint Eastwood's 'Million Dollar Baby' starring Freeman, Eastwood and Hilary Swank; and American director Vincent Minnelli's classic musical 'An American in Paris' (1951), starring Caron and Gene Kelly. CIFF's other 2005 honorees included Mohamed Mounir and Hanan Turk for their roles in Lebanese director Jocelyne Saab's Dunia (2005 film), a controversial film focusing on censorship and the oppression of women in Egypt. The Syrian American producer and director Moustapha Akkad, who died in a 2005 terrorist attack in Amman, Jordan, was also honored that year. He is best remembered for 'Mohammad, Messenger of God' (1976) (U.S. 'The Message') about the early days of Islam, and for the spine-chilling 'Halloween' movie series.

Cairo Film ConnectionEdit

The Cairo Film Connection is the latest coproduction platform aiming at maximizing networking to induce coproductions for films originating from the Arab world.

The first year, around 10 projects will be selected by a team of experts. Directors and producers will be invited to the Cairo Film Connection to pitch their projects over a period of 3 days to key industry professionals whether international or from the region.

Circulation of the selected project in Arabic and English as well as, individualized meetings scheduled in advance should maximize exposure of the projects and optimize all the participants experience.

Guests will be carefully selected to cover all stages of development of film production, funding, distribution, marketing, broadcasting, sales, festivals.

In addition to the exposure offered to film-makers during the Cairo Film Connection, the Egyptian Ministry of Culture is offering a special award amounting to $10,000.


  1. ^ "The trouble with the Cairo International Film Festival". Daily News Egypt. Retrieved 18 November 2012.
  2. ^ "36th Cairo International Film Festival postponed to 2014". Euromed Audiovisuel. Archived from the original on 11 October 2014. Retrieved 6 April 2014.
  3. ^ "مفاجأة.. هؤلاء النجوم.. ليسوا مصريين". Al-Ittihad.
  4. ^ Muhammad Y. Gamal (May 2008). "Egypt's audiovisual translation scene" (PDF). Arab Media & Society: 13. Archived from the original (PDF) on 23 September 2015. Retrieved 7 October 2014.
  5. ^ "Awards – Cairo International Film Festival". Retrieved 2 October 2019.
  6. ^ "Klaus Haro's film, Mother of Mine, wins Golden Pyramid". Screen Daily. 13 December 2005. Retrieved 29 April 2015.
  7. ^ "Chinese film defies critics and wins the Golden Pyramid". Daily News Egypt. 10 December 2006. Retrieved 29 April 2015.
  8. ^ "French war movie sweeps film festival awards". Daily News Egypt. 9 December 2007. Retrieved 29 April 2015.
  9. ^ "Spain and Belgium winners at Cairo film fest". Al Arabiya. 29 November 2008. Retrieved 29 April 2015.
  10. ^ "Cairo festival hands main prizes to Letters To Father Jacob and The Hedgehog". Screen Daily. 23 November 2009. Retrieved 29 April 2015.
  11. ^ "Egypt sweeps top awards at Cairo International Film Festival". Daily News Egypt. 10 December 2010. Retrieved 29 April 2015.
  12. ^ "35th Cairo International Film Festival closes on a sad note". Al Ahram. 8 December 2012. Retrieved 29 April 2015.
  13. ^ "36th Cairo International Film Festival: Iranian film Melbourne wins Best Film". Al Ahram. 18 November 2014. Retrieved 29 April 2015.
  14. ^ "Prizes of the 39th Cairo International Film Festival (21st- 30th Nov.2017)". Archived from the original on 5 March 2018. Retrieved 4 March 2018.
  15. ^ "Prizes of the 40th Cairo International Film Festival (20- 29 Nov. 2018)". Retrieved 4 December 2018.
  16. ^ "Mexico's 'I Am No Longer Here,' Tunisia's 'A Son' win at Cairo Film Festival". Retrieved 30 April 2020.

External linksEdit