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.nWithin 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. nAn 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.nThe screen play was written by Abdel Qoddous, a well known opposition journalist of the era, and much called-upon screen writer. 
Film Clip:  nWednesday, 14. August 2013, 18h30, at the FNCC, Entrance, – N$ 20      
The screening of Between Heaven and Earth at the Goethe-Centre is cancelled. We show instead: Destiny – Directed by Youssef Chahine
| Egypt/France, 1997 | 135 min
Screening organized by AfricAvenir & supported by M-Net.
Destiny is an entertaining historical biopic of the influential 12th century philosopher Averroes and a blunt allegory condemning the politically driven fanaticism of present times. The film premiered at the 50th anniversary of the Cannes Film Festival in 1997, where Youssef Chahine received a Lifetime Achievement Award. The story is set in the 12th century in Arab-ruled Andalusia, where famed philosopher Averroes is appointed Grand Judge by the caliph and his liberal court judgements are not liked by everybody. The caliph’s political rivals, centred around the leader of a fanatic Islamic sect, force the caliph to send Averroes into exile and burn all his books. Thanks to his students, Averroes books and ideas survive. "Ideas have wings. No one can stop their flight." Averroës/Ibn Rushd/ ابن رشد‎, 1126-1198 nThursday, 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.nThe 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.
Film: 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. nThe 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.
Film:© Copyright AfricAvenir Windhoek 2013


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