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"Cinema presents issues and reflects on them, but it doesn’t offer solutions,” prominent film director Ayten Amin, says, “Cinema plays on your emotions but doesn’t present ideas directly."

Amin’s reflection on the role of cinema came during a panel discussion held under the partnership between UNFPA and the Cairo International Film Festival (CIFF), under the festival’s Cairo Industry Days platform.

UNFPA partnered with CIFF to promote and support film projects that advance an agenda for women’s empowerment, gender equality and a positive representation of women in cinema.

The panelists, who included filmmaker and President of Danish Film Directors Association Christina Rosendahl, scriptwriter and producer Dina Negm, UNFPA Assistant Representative Germaine Haddad, award-winning film director Ayten Amin and award winning film director Yousry Nasrallah, tapped on the question: Can cinema, as a free form of exploration, be used as a tool to alter social values and structures?

The Cairo Industry Days offers filmmakers an opportunity for networking, workshops, masterclasses and partnership opportunities with key and experienced international and regional industry professionals on the sidelines of the festival.

According to Haddad, UNFPA was keen on being part of this panel and on encouraging art and cinema to handle topics such as combating gender-based violence. 

“The emotions of women subjected to violence and their struggle are difficult to present in a workshop or any similar platform,” Haddad said, “we want a deeper and stronger presentation of such topics and hope that will result in positive change.”

The partnership also entailed the UNFPA Special Award titled “Women’s empowerment & advancing gender equality” presented to “Snow White,” for advancing an agenda for gender equality.

The film tackles Iman’s, an Egyptian woman, contempt for her body and her search for love through a Muslim dating website.

“We hope that Snow White will help redefine beauty and parameters the world created around beauty,” Haddad said as she presented the award.

The 42nd edition of the Cairo International Film Festival took place during the period between December 2-10, 2020.

The UNFPA collaboration is building on a successful partnership with CIFF over the past two years, through which UNFPA aims to inspire and advocate for storylines on topics related reproductive health, gender inequality, discrimination and gender-based violence as well as other population issues.