Cairo International Women’s Film Festival launches with Basque film
Screenshot of 3-minute Egyptian short film "Friends to Death, screened at the opening of the Cairo International Women's Film Festival

CAIRO: The 7th Cairo International Women’s Film Festival launched Saturday night at the Artistic Creativity Center at the Cairo Opera House with the Egyptian animated short film “Friends to Death,” which was followed with the Spanish Basque-language film “My Mother’s Hands.”

A discussion before the films was conducted with festival director Amal Ramsis and “Friends to Death” director Sarah Nabil, along with Nerea Uriarte, a representative from Spain who spoke on behalf of “My Mother’s Hands” director Mireia Gabilondo.

“ ‘My Mother’s Hands’ is a film about minorities” Uriarte said, adding it was important because it was made by a woman, as well as being produced in Basque, a language repressed under the nearly 40-year dictatorship of Francisco Franco that lasted until 1975.

She said the movie aims to revive Basque in film, and its core message is to support the idea of helping others.

Ramsis said in years past the festival only featured Arabic, Latin American and Spanish movies made by women, but as of last year it had made a huge change to start including other movies, finally making it a truly “international festival.”

She added that the festival is not a competition, so they did not appoint a jury to decide which movies should win. “We only depended on the audience voting for the best movie, which will be displayed at the end of the festival’s events,” she said.

“My Mother’s Hands” is based on a novel of the same name, and tells the story of Neriah, a 38-year-old woman whose life is thrown off track when her mother loses her memory and is hospitalized.

Neriah starts to reminisce with her mother about how she had suffered problems with her boss, husband, daughter and an old love. Neriah begins to realize she knows little of her mother’s life, and starts to crumble.

A memorial for Nadine Shams

In addition to the films, a tribute to recently deceased Egyptian writer Nadine Shams was shown before the screenings. It was a short video of her talking about Mina Daniel, who was a Copt killed during the Maspiro clashes on Oct. 9, 2011.

Shams died on March 22, 2014 due to a medical error during a surgery. Her husband Nabil Al-Ott attended the festival opening and talked about her life. Ramsis said that she misses Shams, as she was keen to attend and participate in the festival last year.

Sixty films are expected to be displayed during the festival, which will last until Dec. 4. Festival films will be shown at The Creativity Center at the Cairo Opera House, the Falaki Theater at the American University in Cairo and the Goethe Institute.

Ramsis’ movie, “The Trace of the Butterfly” about Mina Daniel’s sister Mary, will be screened at the Falaki Theatre Dec. 4 at 7 p.m.

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