The future of Egypt’s El Gouna Film Festival is in doubt with the postponement of its previously scheduled sixth edition, which was set to take place from October 13 to 22.
The festival’s organizers stated that the event will be postponed to allow for a re-set.
“This decision will give more time to focus on both the artistic and organizational side of subsequent editions while boosting GFF’s ability to play a leadership position and contribute to the regional and international development of the film industry,” it said in a statement.
The event was founded in 2017 by Egyptian entrepreneur Naguib Sawiris and takes place in the luxury Red Sea resort of El Gouna, which his brother Samih Sawiris designed.
It was built from the ground up over the course of five years by respected Arab film specialist Intishal Al Tamimi, who is credited with establishing a respectable international festival.
After a difficult fifth edition in October, marked by a series of disasters and controversies, storm clouds began to gather over the festival.
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These included a fire in the festival’s main outdoor hub just hours before the opening night, the arrest and deportation of a Palestinian festival guest at Cairo Airport, political backlash against Egyptian film Feathers, and the artistic director Amir Ramses’ resignation just hours before the closing ceremony.
The Sawiris family was rumored to be on the approach of destroying the festival due to the political ramifications from some of these occurrences at the time.
Shortly after the fifth edition, an announcement setting the dates for the next three years attempted to debunk the suspicions, though Monday’s statement hints a reassessment is underway.