Egypt

Ali Badrakhan – al-Gou’ AKA The Hunger (1986)

A cinematic masterpiece produced by the revolutionary 1960s generation inspired by the folk hero myths of Nobel Prize Laureate Naguib Mahfouz. Based on his 1977 novel about the Egyptian ‘urban rabble,’ The Harafish, the film portrays the rise of a people’s hero and his rapid corruption through power. Although set in the late 19th century, ‘The Hunger’ can also be read as a commentary on present day social and political realities. Read More »

Salah Abouseif – She’ Mn El Azab AKA The Torment (1969)

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A desperate woman on the run from the police for having killed her stepfather seeks refuge in a villa of a famous artist.

The Arabic title of the film is شيء من العذاب.
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Youssef Chahine – Al-mohager AKA The Emigrant (1994)

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The biblical tale of Joseph is told from an Egyptian perspective in this interesting character study. In this film, Joseph is called Ram. Ram, tired of his family’s backward superstitious life, and tired of being picked on by his brothers, wants to go to Egypt to study agriculture. His brothers travel with him across Sinai, but then suddenly sell him to Ozir, an Egyptian who works for a Theban military leader, Amihar. Amihar is impressed by Ram’s drive and personal charm and so grants Ram some desolate land outside the capital. Ram soon finds himself a pawn in the political and sexual games between Amihar and his wife Simihit, a high priestess of the Cult of Amun. Read More »

Youssef Chahine – Iskanderija, kaman oue kaman AKA Alexandria Again and Forever (1989)

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The last film in Youssef Chahine’s autobiographical Alexandria Trilogy stars Chahine himself as his cinematic alter ego, Yehia Mourad, completing his merging of fiction with real life and drama with psychodrama. Opening with Chahine’s triumph at the Berlin Film Festival, where he took home the Silver Bear for Alexandria…Why? (the first film in the trilogy–this is layered stuff), the film explores Yehia’s obsession with his young star, Amir (Amr Abdel-Guelil), while participating in the general strike of 1987. As Yehia fantasizes about the films they would make together (one of them looks like a loony take on Jesus Christ Superstar), he elevates Amir from a kind of adopted son to cinematic messiah. But while caught up in the strike, Yehia becomes enchanted by a former actress, Nadia (Yousra), turned dedicated revolutionary, and he decides to cast her in his next feature. Read More »

Youssef Chahine – Hadduta misrija AKA An Egyptian Story (1982)

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Boldly blending personal and political histories, intercutting its fast-moving fictional scenes with documentary footage, this sort of sequel to Alexandria – Why? follows the fortunes of Chahine’s charismatic film-maker hero and alter ego, forced to review his past and learn to love himself by a critical open-heart operation. The occasionally clumsy central conceit – Yehia/Chahine standing trial for his life during surgery – is amply offset by the energy and style of this indulgent, exuberant, and immensely likeable self-portrait. Read More »

Youssef Chahine – Awdat al ibn al dal AKA The Return of the Prodigal Son (1976)

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In this Andre Gide adaptation, an activist (Ali Mahrez) is released after many years in prison and returns home, shaking up established relationships among his family members at the farm governed by his strict father. Demonstrating Chahine’s eclecticism, this is an elegant melodrama, exuberant musical, layered allegory, and profound portrait of personal and political disillusionment. This is one of Chahine’s best movies and one of the greatest Arabic films. Great performances by Mahmoud El-Meliguy and Hoda Soltan. Read More »

Kamal Selim – El azima AKA The Will (1939)

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Plot:
A young couple, Muhammad and Fatima, fall in love and get married. However, their bliss is cut short when Muhammad loses his job and is forced to work as fabric salesman, without telling his wife. Some of the neighbors then scheme to get Fatima to see her husband working as a fabric salesman. Things turn around when his reason for dismissal from his old job disappears and he is rehired, and all seems well for the young couple. Read More »