The Cairo International Film Festival (CIFF) has announced on Sunday the signing the Gender Parity Pledge 5050×2020, becoming the first Arab, and the second African festival to join this commitment launched during the Cannes Film Festival in 2018.
The Gender Parity Pledge 5050×2020 is a movement that aims for better gender representation and transparency by 2020. First introduced at the Cannes Film Festival in 2018, a number of festivals have signed the pledge since then.
As of its 42nd edition in November 2020, CIFF said it will be committed to promote gender equality and transparency. The festival will publicly announce the percentages of women participating in the film programming and selection teams, in addition to the percentage of films submitted by female directors and the ones selected in the official programme.
“Egypt is keen on female representation in all areas of life and specifically in cinema. It is already the case that women filmmakers’ representation in the Arab world is equal if not favourable from female representation internationally,” said CIFF’s President, Producer Mohamed Hefzy.
In its last edition, the festival celebrated its attention to female representation through Arab filmmakers’ outstanding careers and impact on Arab cinema: Director Hala Khalil’s Nawara from Egypt, Director Hala Lotfi’s Coming Forth By Day from Egypt, Director Mai Masri’s 3000 Nights from Palestine, Director Annemarie Jacir’s Wajib from Palestine, Director Haifaa Al-Mansour’s Wadja from Saudi Arabia, Director Kaouther Ben Hania’s Beauty and the Dogs from Tunisia, Director Sofia Djama’s The Blessed from Algeria, and Director Nujoom Al-Ghanem’s Sharp Tools from the UAE.
Hefzy added that when he first reviewed the commitments stated in the pledge, he was happy to find that most of the conditions related to the festival’s organization were already fulfilled.
The festival’s Deputy Artistic Director Ahmed Shawky said the signing of this pledge will be celebrated during the gala screening of the film Scales which is written and directed by up-and-coming Saudi Arabian filmmaker Shahad Ameen.
The fantasy film tells the story of a young girl who defies patriarchal traditions to forge her own path. Produced by award-winning media and entertainment company Image Nation Abu Dhabi, Scales premiered at the 76th Venice Film Festival’s Critics’ Week, where it was awarded the Verona Film Club Award for most innovative film.
Scales is also participating in the Horizons of New Arab Cinema Competition during the upcoming edition of the Cairo Film Festival (20-29 November 2019).
Nearly 60 festivals have signed the 5050×2020 pledge, including Berlin, Locarno, Venice, Toronto, San Sebastian, London, Sarajevo, Los Angeles, Rome, and New York, as well as the Annecy animation and Clermont-Ferrand festivals. The Durban Film Festival in South Africa was the only signing African festival.
“We’re extremely happy that the CIFF has decided to sign the Pledge, showing their attachment to the issue of equality and inclusion in the Arab region. We hope many other festivals in the region will follow their lead” said Delphyne Besse, co-founder of the 50/50 by 2020 movement.