Mohamed Khan – Zawgat Ragoul Mohem AKA The Wife of an Important Man (1987)

Starring Ahmed Zaki and Mervat Amin, the film’s importance comes from it’s storyline written by Raouf Tawfik, it discusses a bold and sensitive subject for Middle Eastern societies, the concept of power and it’s relationship with the individual. The films that have discussed this subject in earnest are rare and in between especially in Egyptian cinema, because of censorship and intimidation, and even the films that have previously discussed the issue of authority and power abuse have only touched it from a political view, ignoring the psychological aspects.
The wife of an Important man stands in opposition to this school of thought.
In the film, we are shown two of the most important characters in Khan’s filmography. Read More »

Hussein Kamal – Emberatoriet meem AKA Empire M (1972)

Mona, a well off widow and working mother, is struggling to raise her six children of different ages ranging from elementary school to university graduating students and all with names beginning in ‘M.’ When she decides to bring home a new husband, she faces a number of challenges. One of the best loved Egyptian classics, on the surface ‘Empire of M’ is a family drama but beneath this story is a call for political liberalism and women’s rights during the Sadat era. The film is based on a novel by Ihsan Abd al-Qudus (‘The Belly Dancer and the Politician’), adapted for the screen by the Egyptian Nobel Laureate Naguib Mahfouz, and features Hussein Kamal (‘The Virgin and the White Hair’) directing a cast led by ‘the First Lady of Arab Cinema’ Faten Hamama (‘The Nightingale’s Prayer’) in an award winning role. Read More »

Atef Salem – Seraa fil Nil AKA Struggle on the Nile (1959)

Naïve young Muhasab is asked to accompany his more dependable friend, Mujahed, on a voyage up the Nile to Cairo. Once there, they will sell their boat, the “Bride of the Nile,” in order to buy a barge that will make their village elders more competitive in business and trade. But a ruthless business rival is determined to see that the men never reach Cairo. Matters become even more complicated when Nargis, a scheming carnival dancer, is discovered hiding out in the cargo hold of the “Bride of the Nile.” Starring Omar Sharif in one of his most complex roles, this sensual and atmospheric classic of Egyptian cinema is set on a Nile boat where the conflict between two men is ignited by a seductive gypsy who marries one man but loves the other. Atef Salem directs tour de force performances by Sharif, Rushdi Abaza and Hind Rostom. Ranked #36 on the list of 100 Best Egyptian Films 1933-2007 compiled by a team of Egyptian film critics and published in the Al-Ahram Weekly newspaper. Read More »

Ali Badr Khan – Al karnak AKA Karnak Café (1975)

In one of their best roles ever, distinguished actors Nour al Sherif and Saad Hosni star in this overwhelming movie which witnesses the unstable social and political life in Egypt during the late 60s and early 70s of the last century. The lives of a group of university students are turned upside down because of their talks about the political instability the country was going through at the time. While some of the students managed to recover, others have been doomed and fought for their lives. Based on the novel of the same name by Naguib Mahfouz! Read More »

Ali Abdel-Khalek – El-Baydha Wal Hagar AKA Hocus Pocus (1990)

Mustafaa is a high school philosophy teacher whose life is turned upside down when the landlord decides to raise his rent. When he fails to pay the new rent, he moves to a cheap dilapidated room on the roof of the building, which had been abandoned after being occupied for many years by a black magician. Mostafaa begins his own journey with black magic when he falsely claims an ability to communicate with spirits and demons, and becomes rich and famous working as a fortune teller. However, getting arrested as a charlatan puts his ‘magic powers’ to the ultimate test. Directed by Ali Abd Elkhaik and starring the well known Egyptian actor Ahmed Zaki. Read More »

Henry Barakat – Doa al karawan AKA The Nightingale’s Prayer (1959)

This is a classical melodrama from Egypt and nicely shot in black and white. It is a tale of relations between man and woman, death, revenge and forgiveness. To watch a film is not just the moving images it is also a opportunity to travel in time and space. Here one is moved back too Egypt in the fifties. I do believe that with the travel back in time there is also and chance to learn something about norms and values, the society and how the relations between people was at that particular time in that particular environment. Doa al karawan AKA The Nightingale’s Prayer (1959) was chosen as one of the best Egyptian films of all time, and it also stars Faten Hamama and she is maybe the number one female screen icon of Egyptian cinema. This film is based on a novel by Taha Hussein and he is considered to be one of the finest and most influential writers of modern Egyptian literature. Read More »

Chadi Abdel Salam – Al-mummia AKA The Night of Counting the Years (1969)

In the late 1800s, an isolated Egyptian mountain clan sustains itself by exploiting Egypt’s ancient heritage, secretly raiding the tombs of the Pharaohs in Thebes. “One of the greatest Egyptian films ever made, Al-Mummia has an extremely unusual tone – stately, poetic, with a powerful grasp of time and the sadness it carries. The carefully measured pace, the almost ceremonial movement of the camera, the classical Arabic spoken on the soundtrack, the unsettling score by the great Italian composer Mario Nascimbene – they all work in perfect harmony… This picture has a sense of history like no other, and in the end, the film is strangely, even hauntingly consoling – the final understanding of who and what we are” (Martin Scorsese). Read More »