With the 5th edition of Gouna Film Festival rapidly approaching we took the chance to catch up with its creator, Chairman of Orascom Development Holding AG and El Gouna, Samih Sawiris.
What can we expect from GFF this year?
Well, I expect it to be a little bit better than last year, which was a little bit better than the year before, which was a little bit better than the year before. Meaning that every year we have to get a little bit better, as we learn more and as we react to the feedback and any problems that arose. Samih Sawiris
For you, what is the biggest challenge in organizing the Gouna Film Festival?
Corona is still generally number one because it makes travel very complicated for people. Making sure that everyone stays safe, and that the events are interesting and attracting a lot of attendees.
What would be your ultimate GFF edition? Your best version of GFF?
We are hoping that every year will get more attention from international movie producers, directors and actors, and rely less on personal connections to invite people, but rather have them want to come. That is my ultimate ambition.
We know that you are always interested in supporting new creative talent in general. In the movie industry do you feel you have accomplished your goal?
I think so. Our guys are doing a good job trying to help young moviemakers and trying to draw attention to new talent. We are supporting it, but obviously, I am not the expert, so this is where it is the success of the team, not mine personally.
Do we expect to see any new infrastructure or venues in this year’s edition?
No, I don’t think so, because this time we have used the entire concert hall and conference center, so you will see a bit more space and a bigger venue. I don’t think you have a better building and venue anywhere in the world for a festival. I follow all the film festivals and ours by far is the most impressive building. Samih Sawiris
With your love of music, what creative input have you had in the Gouna Film Festival?
In any musical event in the festival, I allow myself to decide what is suitable.
Which line or phrase from previous GFF editions still plays in your head?
Actually, with every song, from every year, I remember the nice days of that film festival.
Can you tell us about the song for this year and who is doing it?
No! (Laughing). That is still confidential.
What about your three favorite things about El Gouna?
The harmony of buildings, plants and people.
Your favorite spot in El Gouna?
I don’t have a favorite spot. Everywhere I go I need to be happy, otherwise it wouldn’t exist. Samih Sawiris
Are you more inspired by Italian or French architecture?
I have learned over the years that it is important that different architectural styles should not compete with each other. But, I don’t have to like every single piece of architecture in El Gouna, because tastes are different. What is important is that we don’t put buildings next to each other that are not suitable.
We would like to ask you what has been your biggest life lesson?
The more you sit with smart people the smarter you get.
We know that you travel a lot and have covered most of the world. If you could go back to one spot, which would that be?
Good question. Hmm… I would like to go back to Socotra. It is an island in the Indian Ocean that is part of Yemen. The most beautiful place on the planet.
Are you a winter or a summer person?
Summer. Samih Sawiris