The role of satellite
television, particularly those channels making intensive use of movies in their
programming, was acknowledged as an increasingly important factor in the film
industry during the 26th Cairo Film Festival (October 15-25, 2002).
The head of this year's
Jury, film producer and director Ismail Merchant, whose Merchant-Ivory Productions
group has been honored for its serious films over the past three decades, told
the Festival, "Satellite channels with films have helped create a new outlet for
independent films." Merchant stressed the importance of global co-production,
which satellite channels are increasingly entering into.
"Co-productions are what
leads one to new vistas. My first film, 'Shakespeare Wallah,' had a French producer.
But I sometimes wonder that if a portion of defense money of governments went
into film, there would be many more made and could be the vehicle for peace and
ARTE TV Programming director
Michel Reilhac agreed with Merchant. He urged the film industry to "go beyond
cultural barriers" and stated that Paris-based ARTE is not only interested in
European projects but that they are investing in 20 films from South Asia and
other countries. "But a film should not look like it was written for an international
audience," Reilhac cautioned. "A good film must retain its national identity and
appeal to an international audience."
The 26th Cairo Film Festival
has received a global boost with its new president, Cherif El-Shoubashy, who also
holds the position of Egyptian Secretary of International Cultural Relations.
Understanding film in the context of world culture, this year's film festival
attracted a wide assortment of delegates who brought the Cairo Film Festival closer
into the world arena.
"The purpose of the Cairo
Film Festival should be to promote international understanding, and what better
method is there than through the cinema?" said Cherif Shoubashy to TBS. "We have
invited more than 25 film and television people from China to expand the contacts
and there are more than 60 representatives from each country."
The Festival was sparked
this year by the dynamic presence of Ismail Merchant, serving as Jury Master.
Merchant's films represent an exciting globalization that reflects his three countries
of residence-the USA, India, and England. Both a producer and a director with
the Merchant-Ivory productions, he has taken to directing, screening his latest
film "The Mystic Masseuse" based on V.S. Naipul's novel set in the West Indies.
He received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Festival and six of his films
were featured including the Academy-winning "Room With A View" and the latest,
"Merci, Dr. Rey," filmed in Paris starring well-known British actress Vanessa
Redgrave, who came to the festival.
The Festival featured
several themes including increased co-production, with a two- day seminar on "Globalization
of TV and Film in the South." Earlier, Mexican Minister of Culture Sally Demoliz
stressed the importance of cultural and artistic co-operation between Egypt and
Mexico, with the "pyramids of both countries meeting."
Other participants in
the two-day seminar included Rafaat Sharkas, vice president of the National Center
for Syrian Cinema, Zhy Yongde, president of Shanghai Film Studio, M. Riassov,
of Mossfilm Cinema Center in Russia, Komasa Kawakita, a Japanese distributor making
an Arab Film Festival in Japan, and Indian film distributor Manav Jalan, who has
recently sold Indian films to Egyptian and French television.
Although there was no
formal Television, Video and Film Market at the film festival, the varied films
provided enough content for the various distributors invited to view world cinema
and new Arabic movies. The Cairo International Film Festival provided a fertile
filmatic backdrop. TBS