"Feathers": Award-Winning Film in Cannes Raises Controversy in Egypt

Courtesy of Semaine de la Critique – Cannes

"Feathers" was shown Monday, in the official competition of the El Gouna Film Festival and met with criticism from artists and media and some artists withdrew from the film screening after an hour, led by the artist Sherif Mounir, noting that it was "offensive to Egypt."

Those angry about the movie indicated that it includes scenes that did not show Egypt in its proper form and "damages Egypt's reputation" because the state of extreme poverty and misery experienced by a family is the focus of events.

"Why are slums strangely displayed in the film, and the reason for exporting this form of art, especially since it presents an image of slums that is not real?” artist Sherif Mounir stated to media.

On the other hand, Mohamed Hefzy, the Egyptian producer and screenwriter, said that Egyptian society includes all classes, denying that the scenes of poverty in the film are offensive to Egypt.

"The movie falls under the category of (fantasy) and does not belong to a specific time or place, so I am surprised that the film is accused of presenting an unreal image of Egypt," Ahmed Amer, the writer, stated.

'Feathers' won the Grand Prix at the Critics' Week competition at Cannes Film Festival this year in its 47th edition, becoming the first Egyptian film to win this prestigious award.

It was produced by Paris-based production company Still Moving and co-produced by Egypt's Film Clinic and Lagoonie Film Production, Dutch firm Kepler Film, Verona Meier, and Greece's Heretic.

Directed by Omar El Zohairy,33, who studied at the Cairo Cinema Institute and worked as an assistant director alongside some of Egyptians most prominent directors, including Yousry Nasrallah and Youssef Chahine.

The film tells a story of a mother whose life is turned upside down after her husband turns into a chicken due to a magician's mistake on their youngest son's birthday, which forces her to get out of her idleness and face the difficulties of life alone.

El Zohairy said in an interview with Reuters, "The idea seems comical and is closer to a joke by turning the husband into a chicken, but when we approach the story, we see it as a big problem, a problem of life or death."

"The film is completely different, it has a renewed cinema, and it has a lot of experimentation. The difference is sometimes confusing for some people."

"Anything that involves renewal is met with attempts to categorize, but in the end, I am Egyptian, and the film is Egyptian, and the film is not the property of its makers, but rather the property of the audience.", he added.

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