One of his most controversial films, THE SPARROW was written by Chahine in collaboration with avant-gardist Lofti el-Kholi. Set during the 1967 Six Day War between Israel and the United Arab Republic this story of familial and national divisions has become one of Chahine’s most popular films in festivals and retrospectives. A young policeman’s adoptive father occupies a high post in the force, while his biological father is reputed to have been a left-wing activist. Raouf begins to search for those who might have known his real father, while his half-brother, stationed on the Sinai front, prepares for battle.
The Sparrow (El ‘Osfour) was banned in May 1973, then received in December of the same year the country’s highest cultural award. More importantly, however, is that starting from The Sparrow (El ‘Osfour), Chahine departed from the conventional mainstream cinema of his time and developed his own individual style, hence emerging as a pioneer in this respect; instead of using a linear plot, he displayed a new liking for fragmented forms, discontinuous narratives, and random-seeming collages of disparate material such as flashbacks, actual events, associations and documentary sequences. The overall result of these shifts was the inception of a new phase in his films which was dedicated to experimentation and innovation.