Only in its second year Egypt's El Gouna Film Festival on its glittering Rea Sea coast is still in its infancy, but it's already growing in size and stature.
"That has surprised everyone and me as well, to have this festival on a level that can compete with any international festival," said Maya Diab, a Lebanese singer and actress at the opening on Thursday night.
Its goal is to connect filmmakers from the Middle East and North Africa with their international counterparts - and it also aims to provide a creative outlet for younger generations.
It has 15 films in the Feature Narrative Competition, 12 in the Feature Documentary Competition, and 23 in the Short Film Competition and 125,000 euros are on offer in prize money.
"They are important artists who have done a lot of things whether in the Middle East or worldwide so, it is really an honour to be with them," said Mona Zaki, an Egyptian actress and a jury member.
The festival is also in good hands; its director is Iraqi film critic Inishal al Tamimi who described this year's selection process to Euronews:
"When, we choose films we choose them because of the artistic value of that film and the new language of these films. These are the most important factors when we chose films but in the same time we know that you cannot be away from refugee problems. We should address also several cases related to humanity and human rights."
A handful of Hollywood stars were also present, including Britain's Clive Owen who was honoured for his work in movies such as King Arthur, Elizabeth and the Golden Age.