The Cairo International Film Festival (CIFF) is one of only 15 Festivals accorded as a category “A” status by the International Federation of Film Producers Associations FIAPF. It is the oldest and only internationally accredited annually running film festival in the Arab World, Africa and the Middle East.
The history of CIFF goes back to 1975, after a visit to the Berlin Film Festival the late writer-critic Kamal El Mallakh and a group of like-minded cinema critics wondered why such a world-class festival couldn’t take place in Egypt. The country was still riding the crest of Egyptian cinema’s golden age and contained a formidable film industry, still the biggest in the Arab world. The Cairo International Film Festival was launched in 1976, to enhance the role of Egypt in the world of filmmaking and cinema and to serve as a bridge between cultures.
The 1976 festival featured around 100 films from 33 countries, with 14 films from 14 different countries in competition. In an effort to celebrate the best of international cinema, the Cairo International Film Festival has proven its influence and versatility year after year and continues to act as a meeting point not only for filmmakers and critics but also for writers, intellectuals and other artists.
The Egyptian Association of Film Writers and Critics organised the festival for the first seven years until 1983. In the following year, the Union of Artist’s Syndicates supervised the festival, and after that point, several associations mustered their resources to run the festival. The Egyptian Association of Film Writers and Critics joined with the Ministry of Culture and the Union of Artist’s Syndicates to form a joint committee in 1985 to improve the quality and financial state of the festival.
Throughout it’s history, the festival was presided by nine different presidents, including the current president of the fortieth edition.