AfricAvenir Windhoek: Week of Classic Egyptian Films in Windhoek, 12 - 17 August 2013
Egypt was the first country in Africa and the Middle East to establish a film-industry. Film screenings took place as early as 1896 when the works by the Lumière Brothers were presented in Alexandria and Cairo. Still under foreign rule, Egypt was the only colony in which the production of news-reels and short-films by the local population was possible. First reports about productions date back to 1909.
Within its monthly film series “African Perspectives” AfricAvenir has in the past and will in the future continue to screen high quality Egyptian cinema to the Namibian public. Due to the outstanding and rich cinema heritage and history of Egypt, AfricAvenir, in partnership with the Egyptian Embassy, the Egyptian Film Centre and the Goethe-Centre Windhoek, has decided to dedicate a full week of screenings to Classic Egyptian films. In 2013 the week, which will hopefully become an annual event, will focus on films from the late 1950’s to the early 1970’s.
An exhibition on Egyptian film directors will accompany the film week.
Monday, 12 August 2013, 19h15, Goethe-Centre Windhoek - Opening Film
Cairo Station, 1958
Director: Youssef Chahine, Egypt, 1958, 86 min, fiction
Cairo Station is the venue for a blazingly passionate drama about Kenaoui, a lame newspaper vendor, played by Chahine, and his unrequited desire for Hanouma (Hind Rostom), the Bardotesque lemonade seller. Swept away by his obsessive desire, Kinawi kidnaps the object of his passion, with terrible consequences. Chahine received international recognition when this masterpiece of sexuality, repression, madness and violence among society's marginalized played at the Berlin Film Festival, where it was nominated for a Golden Bear in 1958.
“A jewel of a film” Samir Hachem, The Hollywood Reporter
Tuesday, 13 August 2013, 19h15, Goethe-Centre Windhoek – Egyptian National Day, Revolution Day
A man in our House, 1961
Director: Henry Barakat, Egypt, 1961, 93 min, fiction, starring Omar Sharif
A Man in Our House features a prominent political message concerning nationalism and patriotism and glorifies the Egyptian resistance to British colonialism. Using the 1952 Free Officers led revolt against King Farouk as the context, Ibrahim, played by Omar Sharif, a brave young man, hurls himself against the unjust government, assassinates the Prime Minister, and has to go into hiding in the house of ambivalently supportive citizens. His presence endangers the whole family, particularly since they are not as partisan as he is. The father has to make difficult decisions about how much can be risked, and is pulled out of his a-political stance by his son and daughter, the maternal feelings of his wife for the young man, and her empathy with the likely worries of his mother.
The screen play was written by Abdel Qoddous, a well known opposition journalist of the era, and much called-upon screen writer.
Film Clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oMNTxO-Ass8
Wednesday, 14 August 2013, 19h15, Goethe-Centre Windhoek Between Heaven and Earth, 1960
Director: Salah Abu Seif, Egypt 1960, 100 min, fiction When released the film was considered an artistic adventure fearlessly undertaken by director Salah Abu Seif. Working brilliantly within its limitations of time and place, Between Heaven and Earth, from a screenplay co-written by Naguib Mahfouz, is a triumph of modern cinema. In the blasting heat of a Friday afternoon in Cairo, a group of people representing the whole of Egyptian society find themselves trapped in an elevator for 12 hours. The characters – among them a movie star, a thief, a madman, a cook and a pregnant woman - are archetypes that represent the different strata and classes of Egyptian society in the 1950s – classes that are still very much in place in Egypt today. This fact alone points to the timelessness of a film that was first shown more than 50 years ago. Between Heaven and Earth remains a remarkable triumph of modern cinema.
Thursday, 15 August 2013, 19h15, Goethe-Centre Windhoek
The Night of Counting the Years - The Mummy, 1969
Director: Chadi Abdel Salam, Egypt, 1969, 100 min, fiction
Recognized as one of the greatest Egyptian films ever made, The Night of Counting the Years a.k.a. The Mummy is the most important Egyptian historical art-film. Based on a true story and inspired by the famous discovery of the hiding place in the Valley of the Kings of royal mummies from several dynasties, the film is centered on the quest for identity of a young Egyptian. Set in 1881, on the eve of British colonial rule, an Upper Egyptian clan had been robbing a cache of mummies near the village of Qurna, and selling the artifacts on the black market. After a conflict within the clan, the young clan members goes to the police, helping the Antiquities Service find the cache.
Friday, 16 August 2013, 19h15, Goethe-Centre Windhoek
Chased by the Dogs/The thief and the dogs, 1962
Director: Kamal El Sheikh, Egypt, 1962, 130 min, fiction
After four years in prison, the young thief Said Mahran is released and seeks revenge against those who betrayed him. His wife and most trusted henchman, who conspired to turn him into the police, are now married to each other and are keeping his six-year-old daughter from him.
This felicitous combination of film noir and social commentary, about an ex-con bent on vengeance, builds to a terrific cat-and-mouse finale. Director El Sheikh and cinematographer Kamal Karim use carefully composed lighting and a range of camera techniques to create a wonderfully moody atmosphere. Made a little more than a decade after the 1952 Egyptian revolution, The Thief and the Dogs presents a world that challenges moral judgments—after all, the protagonists are a thief and a prostitute.
The film is based on the novel The Thief and the Dogs by literature Nobel prize winner Naguib Mahfouz. Mahfouz was inspired by the life of the famous Egyptian thief Mahmoud Amin Soliman.
Saturday 17 August 2013, 19h00, Goethe-Centre Windhoek Closing Film
M Empire, 1972
Director: Hussein Kamal, Egypt, 1972, 113 min, fiction
Based on Ihsan Abdel Quddous’ book and adapted for the screen by Nobel Prize winner Naguib Mahfouz, M Empire is one of the most loved Egyptian films. On the surface it is an enjoyable family drama, but below the surface it is a political call for liberalism and democracy during Sadat’s era. The film opens with a young Mona convincing her parents of her right to choose the man she’ll marry. It closes with a similar sentiment; her children ultimately want to demonstrate their democratic right.
The film hints on the ideal way Egyptian society should and could be. The family represents the country and highlights the crucial leader’s (or mother’s in this case) role of a multitasked educator. Without her, the family will fall apart and she’s the only one to assess her children’s capabilities and needs. At the same time, her leadership can expand outside the house’s borders. ‘Empire M’ advocates pro-democratic views.
© Copyright AfricAvenir Windhoek 2013