D-CAF launched in April 2011, just months after the uprisings that saw Egypt’s then-president Mubarak step down. The festival points to the turbulent context of its inaugural edition by focusing on public space and performance, with venues this year including Horreya garden, the Egyptian stock market, local cinemas, theatres, shops and cafes. “The festival is about being in the city and bringing art to the urban environment—taking back the space not just politically but also creatively,” El Attar says. The festival’s wide range of venues can in part be attributed to D-CAF’s co-founder and main corporate sponsor, Al-Ismaelia for Retail Investment, which has been buying property in downtown Cairo since 2008.
D-CAF has an ambitious three-week programme this year that spans contemporary music, film, visual arts and, for the first time, literature. Unlike previous years, no events will be taking place in other Egyptian cities, but parallel shows will be held in Lebanon. The performances in Beirut are designed to include Syrian performance artists who are routinely denied entry into Egypt, despite the festival’s efforts to include them in their programming.
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