Controversial director upsets Cairo festival

Egyptian filmmakers have urged organisers of the Cairo International Film Festival to withdraw the sole Egyptian film from the official competition because its director backs normalisation of ties with Israel.

    Organisers routinely bar Israeli filmmakers from festival

    Dozens of film-makers and critics on Monday demanded the withdrawal of Girls' Loves because its director Khalid al-Hagar made a previous film backing normalisation with Israel, said a statement in Cairo.


    The group was critical of the 1993 film, A Barrier that Divides Us, which tells the story of an impossible love between an Egyptian man and a young Jewish woman in London.


    The film was sharply criticised when it was shown during the meeting at the offices of the Bar Association.




    "No Israeli film-maker could have made a film that mocks Arabs as much as this one and shows a young Jewish woman with so much passion for an Arab," said Mustafa Muharram, a former chairman of the Alexandria film festival.


    Hagar's film was the only Egyptian entry among the 19 films in the official competition, though a total of 210 films from 45 different countries will be shown throughout the 10-day festival that began last week.


    But Hagar last week condemned what he said was "Israel's oppressive practices against the Palestinian people."


    "No Israeli film-maker could have made a film that mocks Arabs as much as this one and shows a young Jewish woman with so much passion for an Arab"

    Mustafa Muharram,
    former chairman,
    Alexandria film festival

    His new film is about three half-sisters who do not know each other. They meet upon the death of their father, whose will requires them to live together for a year before they can inherit his property.


    Among the other films in the competition are two from Syria, What the Audience Wants by Abd al-Latif Abd al-Hamid and Poetic Visions by Waha al-Rahib, as well as the Tunisian film Wind Dance by Tayib al-Wahichi.


    About a dozen other feature-length films are from Western and Asian countries.


    The organisers have routinely barred participation by Israeli film-makers in the annual festival, despite a 1979 peace treaty between the two countries which provides for cultural cooperation. 



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