Egypt is no stranger to film, the northeastern Middle Eastern and North African nation has been the leader of film in the Middle East, dating as far back as 1896 with silent films. The country has a strong and robust film industry with some of the region’s most leading men and women of the silver screen.
So, when Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris, the Festival Founder was approached by Amr Mansi and Egyptian actress Bushra Rozza to do a film festival in El Gouna, a built from scratch resort town on the Red Sea, he jumped at it. In 2019, Naguib was listed on Forbes Magazine Africa’s Billionaire’s list as the 9th richest man in Africa. Four years in, the El Gouna Film Festival has garnered respect as a leading film festival on the international stage, where it has not only gotten attention for films, it has become a beacon of fashion for the region.
“I had an experience before, where I was going to do a film festival in Sharm El Sheikh, and the idea of making a cinema festival wasn’t new,” shares Sawiris. He’s an attentive and direct man and it’s clear that film is a personal passion of his. “Doing a festival was always on my mind. But Amr Mansi and Bushra Rozza came to me to do it in El Gouna because this place provides a good ambience for the festival,” he continues.
The idea of getting behind and building a festival is not solely about show or only about revenue for Sawiris. Movies are a favorite past time for the businessman. “Being a very passionate movie viewer, I love watching movies. I’m like a small child getting chocolate when watching a movie,” chuckles Sawiris. “For me, I normally sneak out of parties to go and watch a movie. It helps me relax and it stimulates my mind, it gives me happiness- or sorrow, and it keeps my emotions ongoing.”
“So immediately I said let’s do it,” when he was approached to do the festival. “And although El Gouna is not my domain because it’s led by my brother, he was also very much for it because this place has become a big success.” Naguib’s brother Samih is the Founder of El Gouna and equally as passionate about what is happening with film and fashion through the festival.
Unarguably, the El Gouna Film Festival has shifted to becoming one of the most important star-studded film and fashion soirees in Egypt. The festival has given young designers and small brands in