The 5th edition of the El Gouna Film Festival is well underway, and it is going to be the biggest edition yet. Bushra Rozza
So we went down memory lane with GFF Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer Bushra Rozza, to see how much the festival has evolved, how it shaped the current cultural sphere and its continuous job in supporting emerging talents and filmmakers.
By Aliaa Elsherbini
As the 5th edition of GFF gets underway, does your mind often go back to its early days?
All I can think of is that my baby is turning five. It started with a dream at the first edition, and luckily, we’ve traveled a very tough yet enjoyable journey. We’ve reached the 5th year, which is the year of maturity, if I may call it that.
It’s been a very educating and interesting ride, and I think we’ve managed to come all the way and make it happen with a lot of passion, hard work, wisdom, and a lot of vision.
How has GFF evolved in the past five years? Did you anticipate how successful it would become?
It has evolved massively. It was very young, fresh, and unexpected in its early years. Now there is a lot of understanding of the kind of work we are doing and keep doing. A lot of people are expecting to see more depth and to experience different things throughout the years of the festival. Bushra Rozza
I think the depth and grandeur of the 5th edition will be seen on-ground when it is time for the red carpet at the opening ceremony; that will shape the concept of its 5th edition with all the expectations and all the hard work and passion. Only then, will we start acknowledging and understanding what it is all about to be in the 5th edition.
Being such a big pillar in Egypt’s cultural and entertainment industry, do you think the GFF has helped shape Egypt’s film industry in recent years? How so?
Of course, the role that the GFF has played in the industry and in the cultural platform of Egypt has encouraged a lot of other entities to put extra effort into making sure their own projects flourish and succeed. And that’s the whole point, that we have encouraged others to enhance their experiences in culture, tourism, diplomacy, and art.
I think this is the real role, achievement, and success of GFF. It has become the muse for others and makes them work harder and invest more in their projects. That is what the GFF has done with the Cairo Film Festival and with different festivals not only in Egypt, but in the region.
GFF focuses on young and emerging talents and filmmakers. Can you tell us more about that role and how the festival has helped them bring their ideas to life?
One of the pillars of GFF is to focus on emerging talents and filmmakers, and that’s through the CineGouna platform, an industry hub that includes the Spring Broad and the Bridge. The SpringBoard has different projects every year, like scripts, and films in postproduction that we help find real funding for. Bushra Rozza
Consequently, those films can then compete in international festivals and enter the official competition of the GFF as well. We always collaborate with different entities, organizations, and companies to try and help those filmmakers highlight their work by giving them a voice.
This and the good films we have in the program are the core of GFF, and I think that’s even more important than the red carpet, the partying, and the extravaganza. These are the two main pillars, in my opinion, that have managed to make GFF the festival that it is today.
What advice can you give to these emerging actors and filmmakers who have made it to the GFF for the first time?
I think the best advice to give emerging talents and filmmakers is to please keep coming. Please keep joining us. Please keep bringing your projects to our festival so we can build bridges between us, you, the distributors, and the producers, and so that we can find funding for your films.
Please make sure not to keep your good films and projects from us. Keep going, keep working hard, keep coming, and always keep learning and educating yourself by being in festivals, by coming to festivals, by attending panels and workshops and masterclasses, because that is what enriches your experience as a filmmaker and helps make your journey shorter. Bushra Rozza
Being a singer and an artist yourself, do you get creative input in the GFF songs?
Being a singer and an artist helps in the organization of GFF, of course, but there are others who are taking care of that part. I do listen to some of the proposals that we get at GFF. Sometimes I don’t like them, and sometimes I say no, but it is not only about me.
I am one person, and we are a democratic organizing committee, so we end up with the song with the highest number of votes. It doesn’t matter if I say yes or no, as long as everyone is happy with the song that we vote for. Bushra Rozza
We end our interview with COO Bushra with her happily singing us a snippet from 3 Daqqat, one of the most popular GFF songs to date.