Filmmakers, actors, and actresses from all over the world are gathering on the banks of the Nile River to present their latest work.
The fifth edition of Aswan International Women Film Festival (AIWFF) opened on Thursday night in this charming Upper Egyptian city with the participation of 12 feature films and 14 short ones focusing on women's rights and causes.
"It's an exceptional edition that is held in difficult conditions the whole world is going through," said Hassan Abo el-Ela, the festival's director. "We work on two parallel directions: the cinema in general and the women's causes in particular."
Egyptian, Arab and international filmmakers, actors, and actresses gathered on the red carpet at the front yard of a hotel in Aswan on the bank of the Nile River, during the gala that was held under the proper health precautionary measures.
"As a woman, I care for women's issues and I present them ... My latest film is my own production and it is written by a woman and directed by a woman," Egyptian well-known actress Elham Shahin said.
Running from June 24 to 29, the AIWFF is held under the auspices of the Egyptian government and the sponsorship of Aswan Governorate and a number of organizations including Egypt's National Council for Women (NCW).
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An opening ceremony was held on an open-air theater overlooking the Nile River, where a number of filmmakers, stars and women's advocates received honorary awards handed to them by Egyptian Culture Minister Inas Abdel-Dayem and the president of the festival Mohamed Abdel-Khalek.
Among those honored was French actress Macha Meril, who has been in the profession for more than six decades and whose generation made a difference in the cinema industry.
"The cinema now is in the hands of women. When I first started, there were very few female directors ... Now in the schools of cinema, there are more girls than boys, which means cinema has become a feminine art," she said.
The festival also honored Egyptian actress Elham Shahin, NCW's chairwoman Maya Morsi, Palestinian filmmaker Najwa Najjar, and others.
The festival doesn't only screen films but also holds workshops to develop the filmmaking skills of the youth. A referendum on the best 100 films on women in the Arab cinema will be organized for this year's edition.
Egyptian actor Ahmed Wafik referred to the organizers of AIWFF as "heroes" as they managed to hold it this year and bring all those filmmakers and stars from different parts of the world despite the challenges.
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