The fourth Cairo Video Festival drew to a close on Thursday with a series of short videos, experimental films and loop videos from across the world. The five-day festival, inaugurated by Medrar for Contemporary Art in 2005, was hosted by the Goethe Institute and attracted a noteworthy number of young people.
“Odd stuff” was the recurrent comment after the screening, with various groups engaged in discussions trying to work out whether they interpreted the directors’ messages correctly or not. The videos were selected from among a large number originally submitted, “Based on an open call for submission and chosen for quality, authenticity and conviction in the investigation of the subject matters.” The collection of videos shown at the Goethe Institute reflected the aim of the festival to give emerging artists the chance to present their work, encouraging innovation and low budget production.
On Thursday, as on previous days, the videos mirrored the plurality of participating countries and cultures, as well as a diversity of subjects and styles. The 15 videos investigated, using disconnected images, audio effects and body language more than conventional scripts, issues such as the director’s Métis identity (in Hybred by Christine Kirouac, Canada), the difficulty of preserving cultural identity for the oldest Roma communities living in Istanbul (in Sululuke Roman Orchestra by Ede Mueller, Germany), or the sense of emptiness and loneliness expressed through the movements of a human body captured in the claustrophobic setting of an underground (in Exit by Mohanad Yaqubi, Palestine).
“The Festival seems quite diverse,” said Angela, a young film-goer who attended two full days of the festival. “It includes a lot of video art genres, like documentary and performance videos, and some formats that would be more suitable for installations. So, the diversity is there; normally video festivals don’t have conceptual focus, but I think diversity is a positive thing.”
The majority of those in attendance were familiar with the short film genre, and the festival was well attended. “The public seems to be quite interested,” Angela confirmed. “I saw many people coming every day and sitting for several hours.”
Islam, a 19 year-old Egyptian student who attended the whole festival, was satisfied by the choice made by the organizers. “I liked some movies more than others,” Islam said. “Today, for instance, I didn’t understand the Palestinian movie (Exit by Mohanad Yaqubi) but I really liked the film about the Roma community in Istanbul.”
The videos intentionally left space for open discussion and interpretation. “This is the reason why I like cultural events such as this festival,” said Hazem, another Egyptian student. “Because I can broaden my horizons discussing and sharing my opinion with other people. I really enjoyed the Canadian video (LoopLoop by Patrick Bergeron) screened on Tuesday, as well as the short film Exit today. However, I think these short movies are not very professional, and they appear to be cheap productions.”
For the first time the festival inaugurated access for the participation of institutions and galleries, broadening the appeal to international interchange and gave spectators a chance to take part in discussions with video-makers and curators.