The Damascus Film Festival begins its 17th session today. The festival will wrap up next Saturday, with prizes given to the winners at the closing ceremony. The Damascus Film Festival is the third-oldest film festival in the Arab world, after the Carthage Film Festival in Tunisia and the Cairo Film Festival in Egypt. The Damascus Film Festival became an annual event under the guidance of Minister of Culture Riad Naasan Agha and festival President Mohamed el-Ahmed.
This year, there are two Egyptian films in the festival: "El-Musafer" (The Traveler) by Ahmed Maher, which will be screened in the feature film competition, and "Wahed Sefr" (One-Zero) by Kamla Abu Zekri. Syria has two films as well, "Bab al-Janna" (Doors to Paradise) by Maher Keddo, and "Marra Okhra" (Once More) by Jawd Saeed. In addition, both Morocco and Algeria have one film in the competition, "Kazangra" by Moroccan Nour el-Deen Lekhmari and "Mostafa Bouleid" by Algerian Ahmed Rashedi.
Egyptian actor Hussein Fahmi and actress Somaya el-Khasshab will be judges on the festival’s panels.
The festival will also honor Youssra, Laila Elwi and Hussein Fahmi, for their role in Egyptian cinematic history. Hani Shaker will also be honored, although he has made no significant contributions to Arab cinema.
The Damascus Film Festival hosts a great number of high-quality movies from around the world. Its presence also makes up for the lack of cinemas in Syria, thus the decision to hold the festival annually, rather than biannually was appropriate. In addition to films, the festival has several books for sale, in both their original language and translated, and is unparalleled by any other festival in the Arab world.
The festival also plays a key role in the production of Syrian movies, as movies produced by the Cinema Association, which organizes the festival, are premiered at the event. Private companies rarely produce films in Syria, thus the large role of the Cinema Association in hosting the festival.
Translated from the Arabic Edition.