When the International Federation of Film Producers Associations (FIAPF) approved the cancellation of the 2011 Cairo International Film Festival due to security concerns, anxiety spread that this would damage the festival's reputation. Some feared that another country would seize the opportunity to usurp the festival's status.
Founded in 1976 and classified by the FIAPF as one of 12 A-list film festivals worldwide, this year's event was scheduled to coincide with Egypt's parliamentary elections.
Moneib Shafie, chairman of Egypt's Chamber of Cinema Industry (CCI) and Egypt's representative to the FIAPF, countered concerns in a statement to Al-Masry Al-Youm. "I would like to assure everyone that Cairo International Film Festival will not be relegated to a lower status, and no other country will hold the festival in Cairo’s place."
He said reassurances were made during a FIAPF meeting, which coincided with the Cannes Film Festival, and stressed that that Egypt's relationship with the FIAPF is good.
He favored the idea of cancellation, the first in the festival's history. "It is inappropriate to hold the festival this year in light of security chaos, the counter-revolution and 800 deaths,” he said, also mentioning the recent sectarian violence.
He expressed a hope that young people will continue producing films in the same way they helped produce the 25 January revolution, so Egyptian cinema can preserve its global prestige.
"Egypt's participation in Cannes Festival was not out of political courtesy. Rather, it stemmed from international attention and recognition of Egypt’s innovative filmmaking." He pointed out that Egypt began producing films after France in the late 19th century, and preceded many countries that now have extensive experience.
"If France honored us this year, then we should be proud and we should not reject the honor," he said. "France honors Egyptian and Tunisian cinema, but there is difference between this and that, and our Tunisian brothers recognize this. It is simply that Egypt has a 100-year history of filmmaking."
But Shafie admitted that Egypt's participation at Cannes did not reach the level expected from a country with such extensive experience.
"I hope future participation would be much better, but the recession, which affected every aspect of life in Egypt including politics, economy, culture and arts, affected Egyptian cinema as well. But I believe Egyptian cinema will change post-revolution."
Translated from the Arabic Edition