Akher Ayyam El-Medina (In the Last Days of the City) has been chosen as the only entry by an Egyptian director to take part in the 46th annual Berlinale Forum, part of next month's 66th Berlin International Film Festival.
The film will be screened among the 44 films in the forum's main programme. The screening will be its world premiere.
According to a note about the film released by the Berlinale organisers, El-Said's feature sees his alter-ego Khalid star as a Cairo-based film-maker strugging to make a film about the city, which is in a state of uproar.
El-Said first introduced the project to Abdalla as early as 2007, but the British-Egyptian actor was then busy with Green Zone, a 2010 British-French-American war thriller.
In Ahram Online's interview with Khalid Abdalla published in December, he called his work with El-Said "an extraordinary collaboration.”
The fim's production was paralelled by many transformations in Abdalla's career, one of them being establishment of Zero Productions, an independent production company in Cairo.
Abdalla revealed in the same interview that when they began shooting "none of the money [was] in place, thinking that somehow just by ourselves, we’d be able to carry it.”
This experience quickly brought Abdalla face to face with “the infrastructure that lies underneath filmmaking” and “why it’s so difficult to make that kind of film in Egypt and in this region.”
As Abdalla and El-Said proceeded to respond to those production challenges, which ranged from “locations falling apart, to actors dropping out, to having to change the script. And how the level of the quality of the image that you produce demands extraordinary preparation, which requires people who have the experience and the skill to do that,” Zero Production, became a “hub where people would hang out, talk and edit.”
The shooting of the film began in 2008, taking the filmmakers to Cairo, Alexandria, Beirut, Baghdad and Berlin and bringing together many talents from the Arab world.
Co-produced by Zero Production, the film was written by El-Said and Rasha Salti. The film's art director is late renowned artist Salah Marei.
A graduate in film direction from the High Institute of Cinema in 2008, El-Said is an Egyptian filmmaker, writer and producer who lives and works in Cairo.
The Berlin International Film Festival will take place between 11 and 22 February.
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