The 40th Cairo International Film Festival (CIFF) opened Tuesday in the Egyptian capital amid high expectations of the oldest film festival in the Middle East region.
The event, which is held at the Cairo Opera House, will feature more than 160 films from 60 countries, including 16 world premieres.
The festival's Main Competition jury committee will be headed by prominent Danish film director Bille August who is among the very few directors who have received the Palme d'Or award twice at the Cannes Film Festival.
The committee will choose the film that will receive the highest award in the festival, the Golden Pyramid.
Other competitions include Arab Horizons, Critics' Week and Tomorrow's Cinema, with the first focusing on films from the Arab world and the other three looking at international cinema.
This jubilee edition of the festival promises numerous new features and developments, with president Mohamed Hefzy putting a lot of hope on the festival's development, according to official Ahram Online news website.
Numerous films will be screened, with a focus on Arab cinema created through the competitive Arab Horizons section showcasing a large assortment of films from Egypt, Morocco, Lebanon, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, giving the viewers an opportunity to see the developments of the region's cinematic practices, its trends, interests and talents.
The section will include a total of eight new films, seven feature films and a documentary.
In the second half of the festival, between Nov. 25 and 29, the event will hold Cairo Industry Days. Organized for the first time in the festival's history, the "Industry Days" aims at providing its participants with important opportunities for discussions, meetings, training and workshops in various areas of the industry.
The festival has also added the People's Choice Award for the first time in its history with the award amounting 20,000 U.S. dollars for the film which gets a majority vote from the Cairo audience.
A new award entitled "Best Arab Film" with a value of 15,000 dollars has also been added to this year's festival.
Another new addition are midnight screenings organized in the Zamalek cinema, showcasing thrillers, science fiction and horror movies over the seven nights of the festival.
Among this year's honorees are British actor Ralph Fiennes and veteran Egyptian actor Hassan Hosny, whose long career of more than 50 years has enriched the silver screen, television and theatre.
The composer Hassan Nazih will be awarded the Excellence Award, which is given to mid-career artists who have made achievements of creative excellence.
The CIFF was established in 1976. In 2011 and 2013, the festivals were canceled for security reasons, as they coincided with the ouster of two heads of state in the most populous Arab country.