CAIRO: While at work in London, Finnish producer Ilkaa Y. L. Matila received a call from the Cairo International Film Festival saying “he wouldn’t be disappointed if he attended the closing ceremony. Since his film, Mother of Mine,was competing with 14 other movies in the festival, he boarded the first plane to Cairo.
He wasn’t disappointed. During the closing ceremony of the festival, held at the Cairo Opera House on Dec. 9 and attended by a congregation of Arab and international stars led by Morgan Freeman, Mother of Mine took home three major awards: The Golden Pyramid for best film, the best director prize (awarded to Klaus Haro) and best actress (awarded to Marjaana Maijala).
Matila, who received the film’s awards on behalf of his colleagues, described the winnings as “a great honor. The film first premiered in Toronto and had already received two awards before its Cairo screening – it is also the Finnish submission to the American Academy Awards, the Oscars.
Albanian film, Magic Eye, also received its share of nominations and awards and took home the Saad El Din Wahba prize for best script (awarded to Kujtim Cashku and Vath Koreshi), the best actor prize (awarded to Bujar Lako) and the Silver Pyramid – the special jury prize. The film also received the international critics jury (FIPRESCI) award – it is the first time FIPRESCI has participated in the Cairo festival.
With only one Egyptian movie featured in the competition, Egypt did not receive any awards. Egyptian director Samir Nasr, however, took home the Naguib Mahfouz prize for the best first work of a director for the German film Seeds of Doubt.
“The greatest honor is that this prize carries the name of Naguib Mahfouz, Nasr said after winning the award, adding that Mahfouz is not only his favorite writer, but also the one who has influenced him the most. Nasr, who is currently working on turning Sonallah Ibrahim’s novel Sharaf (Honor) into a film, said he had never before felt that an award was as special as the Cairo one, citing how his phone hadn’t stopped ringing throughout the day following the event.
Seeds of Doubt also received the prize for best artistic contribution, presented to music composer Oliver Beihler.
Nasr wasn’t the only Arab, however, recognized at the festival.The Yemeni film, A New Day in Old Sana’a, received the prize for best Arabic film, with LE 100,000 presented by the Egyptian Ministry of Culture. Directed by Bader Bin Hirsi and produced by Ahmed Abdali, the film represents Yemen’s first long feature.
Representatives of the jury committee, German director/producer Percy Adlon and Lebanese actress Carmen Leboss, said the films were all remarkable but some were extraordinary.
In addition to the main winners, prizes were awarded for the best artistic contribution in different fields. Director of photography Hamid Khozouie- Abyane earned one of those prizes for his work in the Iranian film So Close So Far.
Editor Panos Voutsaras received a prize for his work in the Greek film Shell and art director Marie Cheminel received an award for her work in the French film Russian Dolls.