The Downtown Contemporary Arts Festival (D-CAF) is back for its fifth edition, and this year promises to be jam packed full of wonderful local and international talent. The festival will be taking place starting March 31st up until April 22nd in venues all across beautiful downtown Cairo.
“There’s nothing that compares to D-CAF as far as I know,” said Ahmed El Attar, festival director and curator of the performing arts section, “It’s multidisciplinary, yearly, and contemporary… these are things that really define D-CAF and set it apart from other festivals in the region.”
D-CAF will be hosting a number of visual art exhibitions, literature-based programs, performances in theatre, dance, and music, as well as film screenings, culminating a truly inspiring, art-filled month.
When it comes to this year’s performing arts section, D-CAF hopes to shine a spotlight on the magic that is participatory theatre with an opening performance by renowned Spanish director Roger Bernat. The program will include various interactive, as well as traditional theatrical performances from Egypt, Lebanon, Germany, Holland, the UK, France, and more.
This year’s Arab Arts Focus (AAF) – taking place April 14-17 – aims to spotlight regional talent and, by inviting over 50 international programmers, hopes to broadcast it on a larger, global scale. For the first time ever, this includes a one-day event in Beirut to highlight the underrepresented art of Syrians due to the on-going conflict in their home country and ensuing instability wherever they try to take root.
Local producer and musician, Mahmoud Refat, is curating the music program for another year in a row. Focusing on the sounds of North African talents, their roots and how these new artists are changing and transforming the music scene, is the theme Refat has in mind for D-CAF this year. A massive concert in Horreya Garden downtown will be headlined by female vocalists Dina El Wadidi, a local favorite performing her latest songs, and Khansa Batma, a Moroccan artist who fuses rock with traditional Moroccan music. Many other North African talents, such as the Moroccan fusion band Haoussa, and the avant-garde Tunisian collective Arab Stazy, are also scheduled to perform and showcase the changing sound across the region.
Visual Art, Film, & the New Literature Program
This year, D-CAF is introducing a new literature program to its lineup, aiming to bring literature fully into the realm of the arts where it rightfully belongs. Planned events will include roundtable discussions, as well as live-readings by popular local authors from their own works and the writings that inspired them.
Independent curator, Aleya Hamza, has put together a collaborative exhibition for the visual arts program, featuring some of the best regional artists, including Doa Aly, Basma Al Sharif, Ahmed Badry, Magdi Mostafa, Ahmed Saby, and Joe Namy. Centered around the theme of sound, the exhibition explores how music can be used as an artistic device in different mediums to enhance the connection between art and the viewer.
Remi Bonhomme, who has served as the Program Manager for the Cannes’ International Critics’ Week, is naturally at the helm of the film program. Bringing an international selection of feature films, this year’s film program – which will showcase six new releases from different European countries – will tackle stories about living on imagined margins and the struggles faced by people whom society largely ignores.