Cinema powerhouse Egypt to be Cannes' first guest country

Arab cinema powerhouse Egypt, which in January rose up in revolt to topple president Hosni Mubarak, will become the Cannes Film Festival's first guest country at this year's event.

Festival organisers said on Thursday that they hoped to make the invitation of a guest country a tradition for future events after the 64th edition of the festival opens on May 11.

Egypt "has informed the world of its need to change the course of history and of its need for freedom, while demonstrating its collective strength and expressing its desire for democracy," said a statement.

The north African nation "will also be welcomed as a country with a strong history in film, whose presence in Cannes has always been justified," it said.

The main tribute to Egypt will take place on May 18 and will include an homage to late Egyptian directing legend Yousseff Chahine who died in 2008.

Egyptian directors, actors, producers and technicians will attend the event that will also see the screening of "18 jours" which groups the short films of several Egyptian directors filmed during Egypt's January 25 revolution.

Profits from the film will go towards political and public education programmes in rural Egypt.

The screening will be followed by an official dinner to be attended by Egyptian Culture Minister Emad Abu Ghazy.

A documentary about the Tunisian revolution that preceded Egypt's, "Plus Jamais Peur" by Mourad Ben Cheikh, will also be shown, organisers said.