Hollywood stars to walk Cairo film festival's red carpet

Cairo International Film FestivalCairo - Journalists who received the press kit for the Cairo International Film Festival (CIFF), which kicks off on Tuesday, were amazed at the number of stars expected to be in the Egyptian capital for this year's event.

The kit includes the biographies of Goldie Hawn, Susan Sarandon, Priscilla Presley and Kurt Russell from the United States, Britain's Julia Ormond, Spain's Angela Molina and South African-born Charlize Theron.

Ormond plans to hold a press conference one day before the festival starts.

"I would not announce a star is coming to the festival unless I know he is almost on board of the plane," festival president Ezat Abu Ouf said.

"These stars have previously confirmed their attendance. Yet, you never know what might happen suddenly," Abu Ouf told Deutsche Presse- Agentur dpa.

Abu Ouf said it was not new for such an array of stars to walk on the red carpet of the Cairo Film Festival.

Award-wining US actor Morgan Freeman, actor-director Danny Glover and Italian sex icon Sophia Loren are among those who have been honoured at the festival throughout the years.

"I remember we had Peter O'Toole, Alain Delon and Catherine Deneuve all together in one edition of the festival," Abu Ouf said, adding that it was normal that some years turn out to have fewer stars than others due to the busy schedule of actors approached by the festival.

Spain is the guest of honour at the 32nd CIFF, with more than 20 films scheduled to be screened during the 10-day festival.

Jose Luis Cuerda's The Blind Sunflowers, Spain's candidate in the foreign-language Oscar race, and Chus Guiterrez's Return to Hansala are competing in the main competition.

Another film, Ordinary Boys, will compete for the digital film award. With three others to be screened in the special section for human rights, the rest are screened in the Viva Spain section.

Abu Ouf, an actor and a musician, says that both the quality and quantity of films are taken into consideration when choosing a certain country to be guest of honour at the film festival.

"We want to show people a certain type of cinema every year. The Spanish film industry has a long history in Europe and the world. The Spanish language is spread all over the world," adds the president of the festival, which has a yearly budget of around 1 million dollars.

Two French films, Martin Provost's Seraphine and Safy Nebbou's L'Empreinte de l'Ange, are joined with Tamara Staudt's Where the Grass is Greener (Germany/Switzerland) in the international competition.

Egypt's The Day We Met is the only Arab film, among the 18 films taking part in the international competition.

This year the CIFF, whose honorary president is renowned actor Omar Sharif, pays tribute to Mexican director Arturo Ripstein and late Egyptian cineast Youssef Chahine.

The announcement of all the international stars may indicate that the CIFF is trying to regain its position as a leading film festival in the Middle East, after the rise of both Abu Dhabi's Middle East International Film Festival, launched in 2007, and the Dubai International Film Festival, launched in 2004.

When Spain was announced as the guest nation, a rumour spread that one of the stars who would attend was Antonio Banderas, who graced the red carpet of the Abu Dhabi festival last month.

Abu Ouf would not comment on whether Banderas would attend the festival, but said there were already many Spanish stars, like actresses Barbara Goenaga, Elvira Minguez, Moroccan-born Farah Hamed and actor Juan Sanz, coming to Cairo. (dpa)