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Ambitious Middle East Fest to Launch in Red Sea Resort With Backing From Egyptian Billionaire

Variety logo Variety 5/11/2017 Nick Vivarelli
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ROME – The Middle East festival landscape is set to be shaken up by an ambitious new entry, the El Gouna Film Festival, which is hoping to exploit its combination of financial muscle, expertise and a competitive calendar slot.

Located in the high-end El Gouna Red Sea resort, the fest is backed by Egyptian telecoms billionaire Naguib Sawiris. Well-respected Arab cinema expert and programmer Intishal Al Tamimi is on board as artistic director. Al Tamimi is a former Arab cinema programmer at the Abu Dhabi film fest, where he also ran the Sanad film fund.

The first edition of El Gouna is set to take place Sept. 22-29, ahead of both the Cairo and Dubai film fests, which are the region’s main film events. This means that El Gouna is positioned to potentially get first dibs on Arab film premieres.

El Gouna, which is being equipped with state-of-the-art festival infrastructure, is touted as a safe haven.

The fest will comprise competitions for features, documentaries and shorts and also a market side called CineGouna Platform, a co-production mart.

“From its very first edition, the festival will be an unmissable annual rendezvous for film professionals and film lovers from Egypt, the Arabic countries, and indeed from all over the world,” Al Timimi (pictured) said in a statement.

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