The Cairo International Film Festival is knocking the doors in the coming few days. Not only is this festival considered the premier cultural event in Africa and the Middle East, but also for the second year in a row, Magda Wassef is the president of the festival. In 2015 Gaber Asfor, minister of culture, chose Wassef to be the new president of the CIFF.
Being the first woman to direct such an important festival since 1976, for 38 whole years, Magda Wassef has to prove this year that she overcame all the problems the festival encountered last year. In 2015, the festival was criticized to be not well-organized, and not only that, the hotshot Egyptian actors and the international ones too didn’t attend any of the festival’s events. What grabbed attention the most, that screening Sobbki’s latest movies was the prior priority for the event which shocked many of the festival fans. In addition, this year, many international newspapers reported a problem between the festival’s administration and Akher ayam el madina (In the Last Days of the City) filmmakers, after a decision to retract the movie, so the question remains: Will Wasef be able to face all these challenges?
Consequently, we are all waiting for the 38th CIFF this year, which was announced to start from 15th to 24th November, screening 204 movies and headed by Magda Wassef, with Youssef Cherif Rizkallah as artistic director and Mahmoud Hemeda as honorary president.
Talking about Magda Wassef, the festival’s first ever female president, she was graduated from the Faculty of Commerce, department of Business Administration, Cairo University in Egypt, 1968. She received a Diploma in Cinematographic Studies from the Sorbonne Nouvelle in Paris 1976 and obtained both, a DEA from École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHSS) (EHESS), 1978 and a PHD in Cinema and History from l’Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS), 1983.
Not to mention, Wassef is a prominent film critic, and she occupied the position of Editor for the Cinema Pages in the weekly Al Mostqbal in Paris,1978 – 1988, and she also headed the cinema department at the Institut du Monde Arabe (IMA) in Paris, 1988 -2008. In addition, she was a General Delegate of the Arab Cinemas Biennale in Paris, 1992- 2006.
In Paris 1995, she has co-supervised with Salah Marie the book “Chadi Abdel Salam, the Pharaoh of Egyptian Cinema”; from October 1995 to February 1996, she was the Artistic Curator of the exhibition “Egypt: One Hundred Years of Cinema”, organized at the Arab World and from October 1995 to February 1996, Institute (IMA) in Paris.
To add more, not only has she taught Arab Cinema at la Sorbonne and has participated in various radio and television programs in France, but she also published numerous studies on Arab Cinema among which several Arab and French cinematographic reviews. Moreover, she was Artistic advisor and collaborator to several international festivals, among which the Cannes Film Festival since 2004, where she coordinated the homage paid to Egypt as a country invited by the Cannes Festival in 2011. She also collaborated with Cairo International Film Festival since 1985 where she’s also part of the artistic bureau since 2010.
Furthermore, she has represented UNESCO in several international cinematographic meetings and has participated in juries of international and Arab film festivals. She presented several studies about Arab Cinema in French and Arabic magazines and translated into French play «12 Women in Prison Spans», 1984, and «Memoirs in the Women’s Prison» 2002 by Nawal El Saadawi.
Before she was chosen to be the president of CIFF, she was the president of Luxor Egyptian and European Film Festival.