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Two Egyptian Films Are Being Screened at an Israeli Festival and People Are NOT Happy

For the first time in its history, Egypt will be represented at the Haifa Film Festival - a move that has sparked opposing views.

In a controversial move and a first in Egypt's film history, two Egyptians movies will be featured in the Haifa Film Festival, in Israel, which takes place from the 22nd to the 27th of March, according to Egypt Independent.

Sheikh Jackson, which tells of a Muslim cleric questioning his faith, and Aida, a documentary by Maysoun El Masry, will be featured alongside several Middle Eastern and international films, sparking debate among figures from the Egyptian Film industry, with some condemning the move as a step towards a cultural normalization between the two countries.

The festival - which will be taking place in Israel's third largest city - is scheduled to host three international competitions, the first of which will be for Mediterranean features, and the second which will be for first-time feature directors. The third competition will be their newest addition and revolves around films pertaining to topics of Jewish and Israeli identity.

The festival management, however, claims to be financially independent from Israeli organizations and is describing itself as a neutral entity, while defending its choice by highlighting the fact that Palestinian films will also be participating in the screens. And that the involvement of films from all over the world, comes as an attempt to place Haifa Film Festival on the international film map.

Egyptian film critic Tarek Al-Shenawy, however, opposes the screenings, telling Al Watan of an informal agreement in the local film infustry to snub Israel, saying that, "The festival has Israeli nationality and the boycott continues." 

He adds that the actual problem with festivals in Israel is that attending Egyptians need to receive permit beforehand from Israeli officials to enter the country. And that in turn, encourages a sort of relation between the two nations.

The Haifa Film festival, which has been taking place since 1983, receives around 300,000 visitors yearly and screens 280 new films hailing from all over the world, 70 of which are israeli. The festival emphasizes its unbiased approach by clarifying that their message is one of pluralism, co-existence and peace.

While we’ve heard the views of Egyptians in the Film industry, we’re curious to know what the rest of Egypt thinks. Feel free to let us know in the comment section, whether you think these Egyptian movies should be aired on Israeli soil.