Egyptian filmmaker Youssef Chahine dies

This video is called Hommage à Youssef Chahine … Gamila (Djamila).

By Adel Darwish in British daily The Independent:

Youssef Chahine: Leading Egyptian film-maker

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Youssef Chahine earned the title “the pioneer of social realism” in Egyptian cinema. His country once had the fourth largest film industry in the world; and it has been an important tool in securing Egypt’s cultural dominance in the Arabic-speaking world since the 1920s.

When I was a pupil at Victoria College in Alexandria (sometimes known as the “Eton of the Mediterranean”) in the years after the Second World War, we were reminded by the British staff there that we were expected to succeed. Before our eyes they dangled portraits of those who had preceded us – King Hussein of Jordan, or the actor Omar Sharif, who had just become a star after being discovered by Chahine, another Victoria College old boy.

He had featured Sharif in his 1954 film Siraa Fil-Wadi (The Blazing Sun). This was Chahine‘s sixth film – and the first Egyptian one to be shot in the Valley of the Kings. It explored a theme much loved by Chahine, that of social injustice and the individual’s struggle against oppression, whether from landowners, governments or backward social traditions. He was to revisit these themes on an epic scale in El Ard (The Land, 1969). …

Djamila (Jamila, The Algerian, 1958), for instance, was an exaggerated account of the activities of the Algerian revolutionary Djamila Bouhired, in which the heroine is tortured by the French. …

In 1997 Chahine received a special award from the Cannes film festival. In his later years he became more outspoken in criticising oppression in the Arab world as well as America’s foreign policy which he believed contradicted her contribution to the world. He had been much influenced by Hollywood as a young film-maker. “All we see is Spider-Men and musclemen,” he said in 2005. “America has become violent like the new movies.”

See also here.

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