Clash (Eshtebak) dir. by Mohamed Diab (2016, 97 min., Egypt) In Arabic with English subtitles
Pro-and anti-Muslim Brotherhood demonstrators from different walks of life are brought together in the back of a police van after a series of arrests following the June 2013 coup d'etat that ousted President Mohamed Morsi. They find themselves trapped and waiting together in the van in the midst of volatile, raucous crowds and stifling heat. From this simple premise, Mohamed Diab uses claustrophobia and expertly managed tension to weave a white-knuckled tale of resistance and shared humanity that artfully evokes the political fault lines in the Arab world's most populous nation.
Tuk-Tuk dir. by Romany Saad (2015, 75 min., Egypt) In Arabic with English subtitles
Every day, thousands of three-wheeled motorized rickshaws (called “tuk-tuks”) zip through Cairo, many of them driven by industrious teenage boys like Abdallah, Sharon and Bika. These three friends are too young to obtain a driver’s license, but with no other way to feed their families they are forced to navigate the wild urban landscape of Cairo as tuk-tuk drivers. Besieged by police, thieves and other taxis on the dangerous but comedy-filled streets, these three boys struggle to hold onto a small piece of their childhood before it is gone forever.
Factory Girl (Fatat el Masnaa) dir. by Mohamed Khan (2013, 90 min., Egypt) In Arabic with English subtitles
Hayam is a factory worker who is living in a low middle class area, along with other factory girls. She thought that her feelings for the new supervisor in the factory can grow bigger in spite of the class differences between them, and although he shared some feelings with her but the cruel reality calls when a pregnancy test is found in the factory and because she did not hide her feelings, everybody accused her of being a sinner even her close friends and family. The factory girl does not want to defend herself and that made her pay a big price dealing with a society that does not accept proud women.
After the Battle (Baad el Mawkeaa) dir. by Yousry Nasrallah (2012, 116 min., Egypt) In Arabic with English subtitles
Mahmoud was part of the armed groups coerced by the Egyptian Government which carried out attacks on protestors in Tahir Square the 2nd of February 2011. Since then, Mahmoud has lost his job, been subjected to humiliating treatment, and been ostracized by his own community that live close to the Pyramids. He and his family are close to despair when he meets Reem, a secular young Egyptian divorcee and modern-thinker who works in advertising. Reem is a fervent ecologist who lives in a wealthy neighbourhood of Cairo. This will be the encounter of two people but also of two different worlds.
Scheherazade, Tell Me a Story dir. by Yousry Nasrallah (2009, 134 min., Egypt) In Arabic with English subtitles
Adapting the story-within-a-story framework of Arabian Nights to modern times, Scheherezade, Tell Me a Story is a brilliantly honest unveiling of the position of women in Egyptian society today. Hugely controversial in its native Egypt for its risky portrait of female sexual desire and repression, Scheherezade follows Hebba Younis, an independent, very modern television talk-show hostess. Told to avoid political criticism on her show, she instead turns to interviewing women from across the social spectrum. Their stories, however, threaten to unleash an even greater outcry.
Cairo Station (Bab el Hadid) dir. by Youssef Chahine (1958, 77 min., Egypt) In Arabic with English subtitles
In this beautiful classic film from legendary director Youssef Chahine, Cairo’s main railroad station is used to represent all of Egyptian society. A crippled newspaper dealer, Kinawi (played by Chahine himself), falls in love with the beautiful but indifferent Hanuma (Hind Rostom), a lemonade seller who only has eyes for the handsome Abu Sri’. 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.
Cairo as Seen by Chahine dir. by Youssef Chahine (1991, 24 min., Egypt) In Arabic with English subtitles
This concise masterpiece by famed Egyptian filmmaker Youssef Chahine began as a commission by French television. Using his unique sense of artistic digression, Chahine transforms this portrait of a city into a self-portrait of a filmmaker. The film was banned in Egypt for its realistic portrayal of Cairo.
Cairo 30 (Al-Kahira 30) dir. by Salah Abu Seif (1966, 132 min., Egypt) In Arabic with English subtitles
Based on a novel written in 1945 (as Cairo Modern) by Naguib Mahfouz, this was arguably the first film in Egyptian cinema to push for a socialist solution to Egypt’s eternal problems: class struggle, societal decay and corruption.
Sadly, in spite of the quality work and important legacy of these Egyptian filmmakers, very few of our selected films are available online. We are currently seeking links for films by the following directors (with English subtitles):
The Street Player (El-Harrif) (1983)
The Wife of an Important Man (Zawgat Ragol Mohem) (1987)
Dreams of Hind and Camilia (Ahlam Hind wa Kamilia) (1989, 109 min.)
El Medina (1999, 108 min.)
The Aquarium (Genenet al asmak) (2008, 111 min.)
The Storm (Al assifa) (2000, 100 min.)
Justified Betrayal (Khiana mashroaa) (2006)
This is Chaos (Heya fawda) co-directed by Youssef Chahine (2007, 124 min.)
Saladin (El Naser Salah el Dine) (1963, 90 min.)
The Sparrow (Al-asfour) (1972, 105 min.)
Alexandria… Why? (Iskanderija... lih?) (1979, 133 min.)
An Egyptian Story (Hadduta misrija) (1982, 115 min.)
Destiny (Al-massir) (1997, 135 min.)
This is Chaos (Heya fawda) co-directed by Khaled Youssef (2007, 124 min.)
Salah Abu Seif:
Your Day Will Come (Lak Yawm Ya Zalem) (1952)
The Monster (Al-Wahsh) (1954, 115 min.)
The Leech (Shabab Emraa) (1956, 126 min.)
The Tough (Al-Fetewa) (1957)
A Beginning and an End (Bidaya wa Nihaya) (1961, 130 min.)