Violence against women makes an all-too-often appearance in cinema. Luckily, the Cairo International Film Festival’s Guest of honour, Australia, hosted a seminar that revealed how we can tackle this vitally important issue.
Last week some of Egypt and the world’s most influential actors, directors, and industry figures took a pledge to eliminate violence against women in films. The 25th November was the International Day for Eliminating Violence Against Women, otherwise known as ‘Orange Day’, and also fell during the 39th Cairo International Film Festival. Violence against women on and off screen is a worldwide problem, and it has an extremely detrimental impact on society. The good news, however, is that it is entirely preventable.
With Australia being the festival’s international guest of honour this year, it has partnered with the CIFF, the National Council for Women, and UN Women Egypt to help tackle the problem. Australian Ambassador Neil Hawkins invited celebrities, Egyptian Government officials, Australian community members, and UN Women representatives to take a stand to eliminate violence against women at a reception held to celebrate Australian cinema at the garden of the Ambassador’s Residence in Zamalek on 23rd November. With all guests donned in vibrant Orange Ribbons in support of this cause, the event preceded the premier screening of ‘Ali’s Wedding’ – Australia’s first Muslim rom-com and one of ten Australian films featured in the festival.
So how exactly has on-screen violence and discrimination against women been portrayed and how has it influenced reality? How is the issue being tackled in Egyptian, Arab, and global cinema? And to what degree is this problem a more prominent feature in developing societies? All these questions were posed at the festival’s seminar on 25th November, which was open to the public and televised on DMC. Held at the High Council for Culture in the Cairo Opera House, it aimed to formulate a practical solution that can be applied by filmmakers as well as more generally throughout the industry. Attendees included a prominent writer, government officials, and film industry figureheads.
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