Sunday, February 6, 2011

Egyptian Cinema

If you have been watching the news lately, surely you are aware of what is going on in Egypt. Given that, I'm willing to bet there may be those who may be looking to Egypt for the first time and they may have a sudden interest in their cinema. Perhaps, through cinema, we can come to learn something about these people and their country.

I'm one that firmly believes cinema can teach us about other cultures. Filmmakers usually make films about their society, about issues which are import to the people. Here we see what entertains people, what their interest are, how they live..ect.

So what all of this in mind I'm going to suggest those with a curiosity in Egyptian cinema should watch the films of Youssef Chahine, who was at one time considered the premier Egyptian filmmaker. The two films which I would suggest you watch are "Alexandria...Why? (1978) and "An Egyptian Story" (1982), which is in ways the sequel to "Alexandria".

In "Alexandria...Why?" Egypt is in chaos, it is the beginning of WW2. A young man however finds himself enchanted by Hollywood films. The movie tells the story of a country in political turmoil and how a filmmaker chooses to celebrate his country but also the power of cinema. Clearly the film must be based on Chahine. It is a very personal, rewarding film. A film which I believe would make a wonderful introduction in Chahine's films.

I am going to supply a link for readers to learn about Chahine's films and his life.