Joaquin del Paso’s “The Hole in the Fence” wins first prize at Cairo Fest

Mexican director Joaquin del Paso’s coming-of-age drama “The Hole in the Fence,” set in an all-male religious camp in rural Mexico, won first prize at the Cairo Film Festival, the Pyramid of Gold, the crowning moment of a dynamic 43rd edition of the preeminent Arab event, which was held in person despite the looming threat of the Omicron coronavirus variant.

Although there were a few last minute cancellations, most of the international participants made the trip to Cairo without being discouraged, including jury president Emir Kusturica, American producer Lawrence Bender and Cannes topper Thierry Fremaux – nicknamed the “king of the Croisette” by the master of ceremonies. The latter two were honored with Lifetime Achievement Awards at the lavish closing ceremony at the Cairo Opera House.

“Hole in the Fence”, premiered in Venice, is Del Paso’s second work after “Panamerican Machinery”, which caused a sensation after its launch from Berlin in 2016. “Hole” explore the experience of a group of boys of a prestigious private school together in a summer camp where they receive physical, moral and religious training. Discovery of a hole in the perimeter fence causes a chain increasingly disturbing events.

Italian films won two grand prizes in Cairo with Laura Samani’s “Small Body”, a 19th century drama starring women’s empowerment, Catholic culture and gender fluidity, winning the Silver Pyramid for Best Director, and Swami Rotolo winning the Best Actress award for her powerful performance in Jonas Carpignano’s “A Chiara”, as that young woman who gradually discovers that her close-knit family has links to organized crime.

The award for best actor went to egyptian actor Mohammed Mamdouh for his central role in Nadine Khan’s second drama “Abu Saddam” in which he plays a veteran truck driver in a difficult transport mission which becomes especially complicated.

Syrian director Ameer Fakher Eldin’s “The Stranger”, about a doctor going through an existential crisis in the occupied Golan Heights, won the Arab Film Award in all sections. Pic is Palestine’s international Oscar nomination.

“Memory Box”, by Lebanese duo Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige, who used diaries and audio recordings they made while growing up in Beirut in the 1980s to make this experimental work on memory and resistance, won the award. for the best film in the Arab cinema competition.

All in all on November 26-Dec. Event 5, which is the only festival in the Arab world to be classified in category “A” by the International Federation of Film Producers Associations in Paris (FIAPF), achieved a memorable feat in the face of various disruptive factors. Besides COVID, this also included increased competition on the Arab circuit with the arrival of the Red Sea Festival in Saudi Arabia, which succeeds Cairo with its first edition on Monday, also as an in-person event.

“First of all, I’m very happy that we haven’t heard of any [COVID] cases so far, ”said Cairo festival president Mohamed Hefzy. “And I hope it will continue like this after closing.”

“Obviously, we continue to be very careful. I would like to say this is the last edition where we have to worry about COVID, but I have to be realistic: who knows what’s going to happen, ”he added.

Hefzy noted that there were industry guests who canceled and a few filmmakers were left stranded in their countries. “It was complicated,” he said. “But we managed to cope with it and survive.”

2021 Cairo Film Festival Laureates

International competition

Golden Pyramid for Best Film
“The Hole in the Fence” (Mexico, Poland)
Director: Joaquin del Paso –– Producers: Fernanda de la Peza, Joaquin del Paso

Silver Pyramid – Special Jury Prize for Best Director

“Small Body” (Italy, France, Slovenia)

Director: Laura Samani

Bronze pyramid for best first or second work by a director

“The loners” (South Korea)

Director: Hong Seong-eun

Actress Award

“Swamy Rotolo” for his performance in “A Chiara” (Italy, France)

Director: Jonas Carpignano

Actor’s Award

Mohamed Mamdough for his performance in “Abu Saddam” (Egypt)

Director: Nadine Khan

Naguib Mahfouz Prize for Best Screenplay

Peter Kerekes, Ivan Ostrochovsky for “107 Mothers” (Slovak Republic, Czech Republic, Ukraine)

Director: Péter Kerekes

Henry Barakat Prize for the best artistic contribution

Jose Angel Alayon for the cinematography of “They Carry Death” (Spain, Colombia)

Director: Helena Girón, Samuel M. Delgado

Best Arabic film selected in one of the three competitions

$ 10,000 (Presented to the producers of the film)

“The foreigner”, Ameer Fakher Eldin (Syria, Palestine, Germany)

Producers: Tony Copti, Jiries Copti, Dorothe Beinemeier

Special mention

“Fiasco”, Nicolas Khoury (Lebanon, Netherlands)

Horizons of New Arab Cinema Competition

Saad Eldin Wahba Award for Best Arab Film

“Memory Box”, Joana Hadjithomas, Khalil Joreige (Lebanon, France)

Salah Abu Seif Prize – Special Jury Prize

“Fiasco”, Nicolas Khoury (Lebanon, Netherlands)

Non-fiction film award

“From Cairo”, Hala Galal (Egypt)

Interim performance award

Afef Ben Mahmoud for his performance in “Streams”

Special mention from the jury

“A second life”, Anis Lassoued (Tunisia)

Youssef Cherif Rizkallah Prize – public prize

“Daughters of Abdel Rahman”, Zaid Abu Hamdan (Jordan)

International Critics’ Week competition

Shadi Abdel Salam Award for Best Film

“The foreigner”, Ameer Fakher Eldin (Syria, Palestine, Germany)

Fathy Farag Prize – Special Jury Prize

“Wild roots”, Hajni Kis (Hungary, Slovakia)

Special mention

Actress Arcelia Ramírez for her performance in: “La Civil”

Directed by Teodora Ana Mihai (Belgium, Romania, Mexico)

Fipresci Prize

“Tomorrow”, Dhafer L’Abidine (Tunisia)

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