Funding the Luxor festival of Egyptian and European cinema
Cairo - Somaia Ibrahim
The Egyptian Ministry of Culture has decided to stop funding the Luxor festival of Egyptian and European cinema and has informed the festival administration that no budget was allocated for the event.In March,
the festival administration received a one-time payment of 500,000 EGP. The principal amount of support is estimated at over 20 million EGP. The festival administration was supposed to receive the second installment in 40 days, and the last installment, which was scheduled for 10 days ago, has not yet taken place.
The head of the festival, Magda Wassef slammed the \"strange and incomprehensible\" attitude of the Ministry of Culture, saying former Minister of Culture Emad Abu Ghazi had decided the state would stop funding the organisations of festivals and grant their rights to independent institutions and civil society associations. \"This decision came along with the changes Egypt experienced after the January 25 revolution. The Noon Foundation for culture and art was given the right to organise a Luxor festival for Egyptian and European cinema. The Noon Foundation for culture and art signed an agreement with the ministry to give the festival an amount of 20 million EGP of which the festival administration received only one installment in March during the period in which Shakir AbdulHamid was the minister of Culture,\" she said.
Wassef added: \"According to the terms of the contract between us and the ministry, we were supposed to receive the rest of the amount in two installments and the second installment should be two months before the festival. The last should be one month before the start of the festival. However, we waited a while for the ministry to comply with the contract, especially since the festival is approaching, but we were surprised by engineer Mohammed Abu Saada who is the director of the sector of the minister\'s office. He informed us that the ministry would not pay the rest of the fund as there was no budget. A surprising attitude that puts the festival in a shameful position, especially with the approaching launch of the festival and the invitations that were sent to more than hundred European guests, as well as 150 Egyptian artists, media and filmmakers.\"
Regarding the reaction of the festival administration, Wassef said: \"We made an urgent request to meet Prime Minister Hesham Kandil as it has become more than just a cultural or film event , it has become an international event of much significance. Important elements include the return of stability to Egypt, Egypt’s ability to attract tourism once again, confirming that the arts are safe after the revolution, and sending a positive signal that opposes the worries of others. This was well understood by the Ministry of Tourism that is led by new minister Hisham Zaazou, who signed the agreement of the festival sponsorship on the second day of his term in the ministry. He knows the value and impact of this festival on Egypt at present and the governor of Luxor, Ezzat Saad, who actively runs the city in order to make it an honorable festival that fits Egypt. In this context, a permanent operation room headed by Major General Alaa El Heras, the secretary-general of the governorate will follow all the details and overcome all the obstacles, which reflects their understanding of the value of the festival.\"
Wassef sent a message to Dr Mohamed Saber Arab culture minister, saying: \"We know that there is still an opportunity to rectify the matter. The minister should not surrender to the pressures of the bureaucracy. The opportunity is still available for the Ministry to comply with the contract that was signed a year ago. Ignoring this problem might cause a major international scandal for Egypt. Egypt cannot bear this scandal at the present time, especially after inviting hundreds of European artists and filmmakers. There are only 20 days and it will affect the international reputation of Egypt.\"
Mohamed Kamel El Kalioubi who is the Head of Noon for Culture and Arts that organises the festival expressed his surprise, saying: \"The attitude of the ministry is very surprising, and puts us in a difficult position. All the associations were extremely excited to make an honorable festival, so I hope that the Culture Minister urgently understands the value of this event, and complies with the signed contract to avoid a major international scandal that can affect several sectors. It is no longer about the name of an organisation or reputation of a festival, but is an international commitment to Egypt as we have sent on its behalf and on behalf of the governor of Luxor invitations to guests from all over Europe.\"