International Awards for Egyptian Films

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International Awards for Egyptian Films

Post by Hafiz »

A young Egyptian filmmaker has made a long elegiac film about young lives in Cairo in the period 2008 up to, but specifically excluding, the 2011 revolution. The Hollywood Reporter describes it as: “Beautifully lensed and complexly edited in a dense patchwork of people, feelings and events.” ... yam-865420

Its called The Last Days of the City - Akher ayam el madina and has little if anything to say about current arrangements or politics.

Its high art, abstract and obscure not political drama. There is no sex.

Here is the publicity still, it wont be used in a tourist brochure:

The director is:

Variety has positively reviewed its screening at the Berlin Film Festival. ... 201705591/

It has also been selected for the Buenos Aires International Film Festival, won a Grand Prix at a Polish Festival, a major prize at the Berlin Berlinale, screened at the Melbourne International Film Festival and Chicago, London, Lisbon, Cologne, Geneva, the Lincoln Centree, MoMA and many others, but not in the world famous Cairo Film Festival. It has heavy future festival bookings: Amsterdam, Berkley and Istanbul IMDB has its rating at 7.1/10. There is criticism – its long, rambling and dis-connected. ... -the-city/

It was removed in November 2016 (after confirmed selection) from the Cairo International Film Festival, just weeks before its premiere, on “concerns” from the festival administration “about the film’s participation in international festivals that precede CIFF. ... -the-city/

Therefore there is no review of it in an Egyptian newspaper but this exclusion in Cairo was reported all over the world, even in the Hindustan Times.

The reason for its Cairo exclusion were: “due to the "film’s participation in a large number of international film festivals preceding CIFF". Thought its international success would have been a reason to screen it in Cairo. But no. According to the festival organizers its prior screenings could be “"interpreted by some as a sign of disrespect to the festival.". ... ht-fo.aspx.

If every film festival adopted this Egyptian rule there would be only one festival screening world wide for each film and the big looser in this wouldn’t be Berlin or London. Lucky for Cairo they don’t apply this rule, except for successful Egyptian films otherwise they would have no films to screen. Meanwhile they are more than happy to screen the worst Western pap that has been shown everywhere there is a third rate festival.

The response to its exclusion from the Berlin Berlinale was clear and persuasive:” It would be ironic to deny a preeminent artistic work to its audiences at home precisely because of the appreciation it found abroad”

Other reports: ... -the-city/ and ... agreement/

Maybe its just catty pettiness in the arts but I think it’s a small part of a bigger picture of suspicion, sensitivity and fear, real, of Egyptian cultural decline, and of the decline of the Cairo Festival now that the Gulf is running its own on a big budget. This fear is not unconnected with the decline into side-show fiasco of the once dominant Cairo Book Fair and the near complete loss of influence of the Egyptian media and TV.

At this stage its not available on video or (legally on) Youtube. It screens with English subtitles. It probably won’t be Egypt’s official nomination for the Academy Awards.

It can’t be its subject matter that is the problem because to make the film it had first to get scores of approvals from its government Syndicate on script, staff etc and the ominously named General Directorate for the Censorship of Artistic Works (still headed by an unpurged felool) had to pass it. Its an industry that has almost been regulated to extinction to ensure all films pass the purity tests.

The publicity around its exclusion is sure to make it a ‘must see’. Another own goal for Egypt.

UPDATE: The film won the Cannes Arab Film Critic’s Award. ... -Clas.aspx. It still isn’t approved for screening in Egypt.

Its been a good week for Egyptian film because the more politically controversial film, The Clash, which is approved for screening in Egypt, won Cannes Arab Critics Awards for direction and screenplay.

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