On Friday, July 16, 2021, the Egyptian film “Feathers”, by Egyptian director Omar El Zohairy, has won the Grand Prize at the International Critics' Week at Cannes Film Festival. It was the first Egyptian film to participate in the festival and, naturally, the first time an award goes to an Egyptian feature film. The award was presented by Nespresso and is estimated at 15,000 Euros.
Moreover, on Tuesday, July 13, a few days prior to the film’s world premiere at Cannes Film Festival, The Hollywood Reporter described “Feathers” as Cannes' Hidden Gem.
Soon after the prize, El Gouna Film Festival announced that “Feathers” is going to participate in the Feature Narrative Competition in its fifth edition, where the film will witness its Arab world premiere.
In a fantasy frame, the film revolves around a poverty-stricken family of five, stuck in repetitive daily chores that keep them going. The master scene and the plot twist of the film are at the 4-year-old son’s birthday, when a magic trick goes wrong and the father is transformed into a chicken. Unable to undo the magic trick, the mother is forced to take care of her family in every way and tries her best to bring her husband back. While she tries to survive, she faces rough and absurd situations.
Although the film has been an unprecedented success, it faced a lot of criticism and disapproval by some actors when it was it was shown at the GFF.
This was the second time that the film has hit the headlines and become the main topic among cinema lovers. The first time was when the film won the Critics' Grand Prize at the Cannes International Film Festival and the second time was when it was shown at the El Gouna Film Festival in Egypt.
At the screening of the film in GFF, a few actors left the show (Sherif Mounir, Ashraf Abdel-Baqi, Ahmed Rizk, and others), who expressed their displeasure with the film because, in their point of view, it discredits Egypt.
The GFF administration has immediately replied to their reaction saying that The El Gouna Film Festival affirms its respect for Egypt and rejects any kind of abuse. The management also added that they will never allow anyone to correlate the festival to any offences against Egypt.
Sherif Mounir said that he was disturbed by some scenes in the movie during its screening at the El Gouna Film Festival because "Egypt was presented poorly", which led to his withdrawal from the show. He also wanted the film’s director to explain the main purpose of the film. However, Amr Adib replied to Mounir saying that art cannot be explained.
In a different manner, a number of stars supported the actors of the film. Khaled Al-Nabawi expressed his happiness with the movie and the performance of Demiana Nassar, the main actress who plays the wife. He has also published a photo of Demiana Nassar while she was on the red carpet of the El Gouna International Film Festival with this caption: “Damiana Nassar, the daughter of Minya, is the most beautiful, greatest, and truest thing I have seen at El Gouna Festival. Her performance is tricky for professionals to do. Good job Omar Zohairy and long live the Egyptian cinema.”
Naguib Sawiris was also one of the supporters of the film as he said that the film has distinct artistic aspects in terms of how it narrates the struggle of a poor family and represents a mother who does not speak much, but struggles for the sake of her family without compromising her honor or dignity. He also said “The end shocked me! I don’t perceive the film as offensive at all. On the contrary, we must remember the poor in order for the government and people to work hand in hand to eliminate poverty.” He also said that “Feathers” reminds him of the Korean movie “Parasite,” which won The Palme d’Or award.