The future of Egypt’s El Gouna Film Festival is looking uncertain following the unexpected cancellation of its previously announced sixth edition, which had been due to run October 13-22.
The festival management said that the event was being postponed to give time for a re-set.
“This decision will allow more time to focus on both the artistic and organizational side of upcoming editions, while strengthening GFF’s ability to play its leading role and contribute to the development of the film industry regionally and internationally,” it said in a statement.
The festival was launched by Egyptian tycoon Naguib Sawiris in 2017 and unfolds in the luxury Red Sea resort of El Gouna, created by his brother Samih Sawiris.
Its development from scratch over the five years been piloted by respected Arab film expert Intishal Al Tamimi who has been credited with creating a credible, international festival.
Storm clouds began gathering over the festival after a tumultuous fifth edition last October, which was marked by a series of mishaps and disputes.
These spanned a fire in its main outdoor hub just hours before the opening night; the detention and deportation of a Palestinian festival guest at Cairo Airport, a political backlash against Egyptian film Feathers and the resignation of the artistic director Amir Ramses just hours before the closing ceremony.
Rumors swirled at the time that the Sawiris family was on the verge of dismantling the festival due to the political fallout from some of these events.
An announcement setting the dates for the next three years shortly after the fifth edition appeared to counter the rumors, although Monday’s statement suggests a rethink is underway.
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