Gouna Film Festival
The FIPRESCI Award for Best Debut Film: Given by GFF to films that highlight environmental issues, this award went to Costa Brava, Lebanon by Mounia Akl. Image Credit: Supplied

The El Gouna Film Festival (GFF) has rapidly established itself as the preeminent cinema awards in the region. Celebrating the best in movies and documentary films, it once again closed to wide-spread acclaim. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, the fifth edition of this up and coming MENA film awards showcased a vast range of films that appealed to a distinguished audience

The closing ceremony was held at El Gouna Conference and Culture Center (GCCC) in Egypt and true to the spirit of the event several noteworthy efforts were recognised. The event, which was hosted by television personality Jasmine Taha Zaky, presented GFF's Career Achievement Award to Palestinian actor and director Mohammed Bakri.

Furthermore, Egyptian actress Elham Shahin presented a video marking the legacy of renowned late screenwriter Wahid Hamed. The feature expressed thoughts from several stars and directors who worked with the legend.

Additionally, as part of the Feature Narrative Competition, the El Gouna Golden Star for Narrative Film (Trophy, Certificate, as well as a US $50,000 prize), went to The Blind Man Who Did Not Want to See Titanic by Teemu Nikki. Silver and Bronze Stars with a US $25,000 and US $15,000 went to Sundown by Michel Franco. and Captain Volkonogov Escaped by Aleksey Chupov and Natalya Merkulova, respectively.

Gouna Film Festival
Captains of Zaatari Film crew receiving El Gouna Star for the Best Arab Documentary Film

The Best Arab Narrative Film accolade went to Feathers by Omar El Zohairy, while El Gouna Star for the Best Actor was collected by Petri Poikolainen for his role in The Blind Man Who Did Not Want to See Titanic.

The Best Actress award went to Maya Vanderbeque for her role in Playground, in the Feature Documentary category. El Gouna Golden Star for Documentary Film, meanwhile, went to Life of Ivanna by Renato Borrayo Serrano. All worthy winners.

Further list of winner and categories included:

Documentary Film

• El Gouna Silver Star: Ostrov – Lost Island by Svetlana Rodina and Laurent Stoop.

• El Gouna Bronze Star: Sabaya by Hogir Hirori.

• El Gouna Star for Best Arab Documentary: Captains of Za’atari by Ali El Arabi

Short Films

• El Gouna Golden Star: Katia by Andrey Natotcinskiy.

• El Gouna Silver Star: Holy Son by Aliosha Massine.

• El Gouna Bronze Star: On Solid Ground by Jela Hasler.

• El Gouna Star for Best Arab Short Film: CAI-BER by Ahmed Abdelsalam.

Cinema for Humanity Audience Award

• Trophy went to Ostrov – Lost Island by Svetlana Rodina and Laurent Stoop.

El Gouna Green Star Award

Costa Brava, Lebanon by Mounia Akl. In collaboration with Recycle for Tomorrow initiative.

NETPAC Award for Best Asian Film

• Was collected by Captain Volkonogov Escaped by Aleksey Chupov and Natalya Merkulova.

Finally, the Khaled Bichara Award for Egyptian Independent Filmmakers went to Adel by Dina Eleleimy. The coveted award was presented by Galal Khaled Bichara

In this age of instant gratification, overt commercialisation and fast-paced cinema, El Gouna Film Festival remains one of the leading entities of its kind in the MENA region. It showcases features that aim to connect filmmakers from the region with their international counterparts to bolster cultural exchange.