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German Premiere: "Egypt's Modern Pharaohs" by acclaimed Documentarist Jihan El-Tahri


InfoTickets: 7,00€ (Überlänge); U6-Rehberge; Reservierungen: event@centre-francais.de Tel: 030-45979353


On January 25th 1952, downtown Cairo was burnt to the ground; the mobs demanded the departure of British colonial rule and called for “bread, freedom and social justice”. 59 years later, on the same day, the same anger was displayed and the same slogans brandished – only this time around against an elected native Egyptian ruler. For six decades, the country’s consecutive rulers, its modern Pharaohs, have each had a clear vision of how to restore Egypt’s ancient glory. They all aimed to see Egypt emerge from its colonial past as a modern, secular state and a leader on its continent. But the grassroots religious grouping, the Moslem Brotherhood, had an alternative vision and yearned to turn Egypt into a true Islamic state.

The trilogy "Egypt’s Modern Pharaohs" takes the spectator into the heart of constructing modern Egypt. From the personalized debate over opting for democracy or military rule to how the iconic President Gamal Abdel Nasser tailored a local form of socialism in order to eradicate former inequalities. But to do so, repression, muzzling opposition and crushing civil society seemed the readily available option. Nasser’s sudden death rendered his socialist vision obsolete and his successor President Anwar Al-Sadat proposed a diametrically opposed route to redirect the country on a new path. Sadat forged an alliance with the regime’s archenemy, the Moslem Brotherhood and veered the country towards capitalism, but in doing so he opened a Pandora’s box of radical Islam that signed his own death warrant and has since had worldwide repercussions. President Hosni Mubarak came to power under a hail of bullets and wanted no more than stability. Stability and security became the catchwords of a regime anchored in the alliance of power and money. The impoverished Egyptian masses remained spectators in a system that aggravated inequalities and ultimately strengthened the hand of Islamic current. The struggle between the only two political forces on the ground has evolved over 6-decades into a dance for two, that until today continues to define Egypt’s political landscape.

Egypt’s Modern Pharaohs follows the trajectory of the country’s successive regimes and how they carefully lay the infrastructure of Independence, but ultimately made the 2011 Tahrir Square uprising inevitable.

The screening will be followed by a discussion with Director Jihan El-Tahri.

A screening organised by AfricAvenir in cooperation with ALFILM Festival, Rosa Luxemburg Foundation and Zentrum Moderner Orient.

The screening is part of the project "Our Strength is in Our Number - Young Democratic Movements in Africa" and of the second symposium in this framework entitled "From Sidi Bouzid to Tahrir: Two steps forward, one step back?".

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N7FvWXLYgbc&app=desktop

"A brilliant three hours documentary saga tracing the history of post-colonial Egypt through its charismatic leaders: Gamal Abdel Nasser, Anouar el-Sadate and Hosni Moubarak. Three "Pharaohs" who, during their uncontested reign, every time had to deal with the egyptian islamist movements amongst which the powerful Muslim Brotherhood." Thalia Bayle, mondafrique.com

"Jihan El-Tahri makes political films, resulting from in-depth investigations, which do not hide her own viewpoints and on the contrary assumes them perfectly, this way being totally honest with the spectator. The seriousness of her research and their analysis are what characterises her films and make them so convincing. They are always very clear, despite their respect for the complexity of history: her comments relate the essential, the patiently researched archives speak for themselves, interviews help develop the argument." Olivier Barlet, Africultures

"It took Jihan El-Tahri five years to assemble all the thirty testimonies of major players and personalities, the rich archives, but also numerous extracts from Egyptian fiction movies which lend the series their special flavour. Gripping from beginning to end, the result is of impressive topicality and relevance (...)." Olivier Barlet, Africultures

"A thrilling historical fresco in three episodes that demonstrates in how far the confrontation between military and islamist groupings has contributed to write the country's history of the late 60 years" By Christophe Ayad, lemonde.fr

"Screened by ARTE on one evening, the films finally make egyptian history from the 1950s to present legible. (...) Jihan El Tahri's documentary saga helps us understand that the setbacks or failure of the revolution was already enshrined in it since its inception, on 25 January 2011."

"The scale of the topic, its opacity, rather than discouraging Jihan El-Tahri, have stimulated her interest. For the director, afer having addressed, film after film, the intricacies of African and Middle Eastern geopolitics, the origins of decisions which lead to independences as well as the origins of post-colonial disillusion, the perspective to tackle 60 yeras of contemporary egyptian history was almost an obvious challenge." teleobs.nouvelobs.com

"Filmed after the fall of Mubarak, her film enjoys a liberated speech, and an intuition that the past period will make it possible to move forward. Masterful weaving of testimonies, delightful extracts of rare egyptian fiction movies and archives, the documentary abound as always with enlightening anecdotes which elucidate the hidden agendas, the battles for influence. An exciting film, rich in numerous revelations." teleobs.nouvelobs.com

Director: Jihan El-Tahri
El-Tahri started her working career as a journalist. Between 1984 and 1990 she worked as a news agency correspondent and TV researcher covering Middle East politics. In 1990 she began directing and producing documentaries for French television, the BBC, PBS and other international broadcasters. Since then she has directed more than a dozen films including the Emmy nominated The House of Saud, which explores the Saudi/US relations through the portraits of the Kingdom’s monarchs. "The Price of Aid", which won the European Media prize in 2004, examined who really benefits from the system of International Food Aid. "Cuba: An African Odyssey", which recounts the untold story of Cuba’s support for African revolutions, has received multiple International awards. Her feature documentary "Behind the Rainbow", which examines the transitional process in South Africa, has been released in 2009 and has since won various prizes. She has just recently finalised the 3 hour documentary titled "Egypt’s Modern Pharaohs".

El-Tahri has also written two books, "The 9 Lives of Yasser Arafat" and "Israel and the Arabs: the 50 Years War" published by Penguin. As a conscious and engaged filmmaker, she is also an active member in various associations and institutions working with African cinema. She has served as treasurer of the Guild of African Filmmakers in the Diaspora, Regional Secretary of the Federation of Pan African Cinema (FEPACI) and as an Advisor on Focus Feature’s Africa first Program. She is currently a Mentor at the Documentary Campus.

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