- Title: EGYPT: Egypt's first film festival on environmental issues opens in Cairo
- Date: 7th June 2007
- Summary: (SOUNDBITE)(Arabic) EGYPTIAN ACTOR, EZZAT AL-ALAYLI, SPEAKING ON STAGE, SAYING: "The time has come to raise our voices before the good things disappear."
- Embargoed: 22nd June 2007 13:00
- Location: Egypt
- Country: Egypt
- Reuters ID: LVA9C23FBO2C5YCX10ZYKTVR3379
- Story Text: Egypt hosts its first film festival featuring works tackling environmental issues. Activists, politicians and artists, including veteran Egyptian film actor Youssra, attended opening night. An international festival of films focused on environmental issues opened in Cairo on Tuesday (May 5), in what the organisers billed as a world first.
The opening night of the first Nile International Festival for Environmental Films got underway with a massive firework display over the grounds of the Muhammad Ali Palace where the event is being held.
The audience, many of whom were Egyptian stars of the silver screen, were treated not only to some of the documentary and feature films in competition but also theatre performances about environmental conservation.
Addressing the opening night crowd, renowned Egyptian actor Ezzat al-Aylali issued a plea for action in the face of a worldwide environmental crisis.
"The time has come to raise our voices before the good things disappear," he said.
The environmental film festival coincides with World Environment Day, which has been commemorated annually on June 5 since it was established by the UN in 1972. This year, as always, the UN Environment Programme sponsored events to promote environmental consciousness in countries around the world. The theme for this year's World Environment Day is the effect of Climate Change.
Environmental degradation is an acute concern in Egypt, where overpopulation and pollution, particularly in Cairo, are rampant.
Festival organiser, Mostafa Hussein, a well-known comic artist, said the films entered in the competition all addressed the issue at hand.
"The films, some of them are features, and some are documentaries. And of course I am not going to explain what all of the features are about, but all of the movies speak about humankind's struggle to stop environmental pollution," he said.
The festival this year was organised by Egypt's environment ministry, and the Minister of the Environment Maged George was in attendance on opening night.
Both George and the other festival organisers said the purpose of the festival was to instill in Egyptians an awareness of the basic issues regarding climate change and the pollution of the environment in general and to educate them about how they can live their lives in a way that does not exacerbate the existing problems.
Well-known Egyptian actress Youssra was also on hand last night and said films have a role to play in solving the problem but are not a panacea.
"Not only films, the films alone are not going to solve this problem. Not with every problem we see should people ask me: are we going to make a movie about this situation? Movies alone can't heal these problems, but we deal with these issues through our movies in an indirect way," she said.
The festival competition is divided up into a section on long and short feature films which must address humankind's relationship with the environment, and long and short documentaries which can be about the environment itself.
A variety of films from countries around the world are being shown at the inaugural festival, from documentaries about damage to the coastline in Indonesia's capital, Jakarta, to Crimea trees in Oman and crocodile hunting in Egypt, to feature films like the animated film Ice Age, about prehistoric mammals fleeing sudden climate change, and Charlotte's Web, about the lives on animals on a farm.
Also featured is former US Vice President Al Gore's Oscar winning documentary "An Inconvenient Truth".
Egyptian Minister of the Environment Maged George said film was an important tool for educating the public.
"In my opinion this kind of festival, with the participants with Egyptian actors and actresses on this topic and with the public's love for them they could be tools to deliver messages related to environmental consciousness," he said.
The first environmental film festival is scheduled to continue until June 10 and the organizers are hoping that over the course of the week the people who attend are not only entertained but educated about the grave issues tackled in the films that will be screened.
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