Famous Coptic-Egyptian archaeologist, journalist and author Kamal el-Mallakh came up with the idea of organizing a world-class film festival in Egypt after a visit to the Berlin International Film Festival in 1975. The period between the 1940s and the early 1970s is generally considered the golden age of Egyptian cinema, and el-Mallakh hoped that an international film festival would be able to attract international attention to the country’s film industry and extend the period of its prosperity.
The inaugural edition of the Cairo International Film Festival was held in 1976. It showcased about 100 films from 33 countries. The competition featured 14 films from 14 +different countries, celebrating the best of international cinema.
As we’ve already mentioned, the CIFF is accredited as a competitive film festival by the FIAPF. Its main award is the Golden Pyramid (a reference to the famous Egyptian pyramids). It is awarded to the best film chosen by the international jury. Other award categories include the Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Actress. Sometimes special awards are given out.
Along with the main competition, the festival features parallel programs. For instance, the Egyptian Filmmakers Syndicate organizes an independent program entitled the Prospects of Arab Cinema. Its main goal is to contribute to the development of the film industry in Egypt and the Arab world. The CIFF also hosts the Cairo International Film Critics Week featuring an international competition for first or second feature films, a film panorama, and a film seminar.
The Cairo International Film Festival is the oldest film festival in Africa and the Arab world as well as the only FIAPF-accredited international film festival in its region. This accreditation puts it on the same level as other A list film festivals held in Berlin, Cannes, Karlovy Vary, Locarno, Mar del Plata, Montreal, Moscow, San Sebastian, Shanghai, Tallinn, Tokyo, Venice, Warsaw, and Goa.