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From 'The Mummy' to 'The Square': Egypt films at DIFF: TRAILERS

The 13th edition of the Dubai International Film Festival sees nine participating entries from Egypt spanning short films, features and documentaries

Yasmine Zohdi, Monday 9 Dec 2013
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Still from Mohamed Khan's 'Factory Girl'
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Nine films in different categories represent Egypt at the 13th edition of the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF), running from 6 to 14 December this year, four of which compete for the Muhr Arab Documentary Award.


The Square

Leading the pack is highly acclaimed documentary The Square – with awards already reaped at the Sundance Film Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival – shortlisted by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for a Best Documentary Oscar nomination.

The film, directed by Egyptian-American filmmaker Jehane Noujaim, follows a group of Egyptian activists as they struggle against the Mubarak regime, take to the streets against the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, then fight the increasing control of the Muslim Brotherhood over the country. The film’s ending was altered a number of times as the director continued to adjust the film to the rapid changes taking place in Egypt.

The film has been shortlisted for next year's Oscars, placed among 15 international films announced by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Documentary Branch members will now select five nominees from the 15 titles and the final Oscars nominations will be announced live on 16 January 2014.


 

Underground on the Surface

Ele Beyheb Rabena Yerfa’ Eedo L Foa’ (Underground on the Surface), explores a different side of revolutionary change in Egypt: that taking place in the underground music scene. Directed by Salma El Tarzi, Underground on the Surface follows Oka, Ortega and Wezza – three established names in the emerging Electro-Shaabi genre commonly referred to as mahraganat (festival) music – as they struggle to maintain their unique, locally unrefined sound while simultaneously seeking acceptance by the upper crusts of society, the majority of which refuses to take their music seriously.
 

 

My Name is Mostafa Khamis

Mohamed ElKalioby’s Esmy Mostafa Khamis (My Name is Mostafa Khamis) goes back in time to explore the dark side of another revolution, one that took place over 60 years ago. In August 1952, workers at a Kafr Al-Dawwar factory went on strike and the then ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces put them on military trial, hanging two of them, Mostafa Khamis and Mohamed El Bakri. For the first time in Egyptian history civilians were court-martialed. The film is an attempt to shed light on an incident that is often ignored when evaluating the events of 1952; one that has been omitted, almost entirely, from collective Egyptian memory.
 

 

Waves

Moug (Waves) is another documentary that deals with the January 25 Revolution, this time centred in the city of Suez, where it all began. Director Ahmed Nour, a Suez native, takes viewers on a journey through his life, divided into five periods, each portrayed as a wave. Waves is a first-person narrative where the filmmaker tells the story of the revolution through his own experiences, entwining the personal with the political through a variety of techniques, including animation in certain parts of the film.

The films competing for the Muhr Arab Feature Award, meanwhile, include two Egyptian titles.
 

 

Factory Girl

Veteran filmmaker Mohamed Khan’s highly anticipated Fatat Al-Masnaa (Factory Girl), tells the story of one year in the life of Hiyam, a young factory worker who falls in love with her supervisor and dares to believe their feelings can conquer the class schism that separates them. When a pregnancy test is found in the factory, Hiyam is accused of sinning by her colleagues and family. Outraged, Hiyam refuses to defend herself, ultimately paying a steep price. The film, conveying Hiyam's different states from one season to the next, is a raw, harsh look into the degradations women suffer when they choose to be independent in a society that views them as lesser beings.
 

 

The Mice Room

Odet Al-Feran (The Mice Room), is made up of six segments directed by six different filmmakers: Ahmed Magdy Morsy, Hend Bakr, Mayye Zayed, Mohamed El-Hadidi, Mohamed Zedan and Nermeen Salem. While the stories, taking place in Alexandria, are not directly related and the characters’ roads do not intersect, they are unified by one fixed theme: fear.

A man visits his dying father in redemption for past deeds; a young woman wrestles with anxiety over her wedding day; one girl helplessly witnesses her grandmother’s health deteriorate; an old man spends his day struggling to cross the street; a widow discovers a new, bustling nightlife after her husband’s death while another woman prepares to leave the country and everything else behind. Using an untraditional form of storytelling and a group of memorable characters, The Mice Room is an ode to everyday life, in all its richness and simplicity.
 

 

Speed of Light

Director Youssef Alimam’s Sor’et Al-Doa’ (Speed of Light) is the only Egyptian contender in the Muhr Arab Short competition for short films. The eight-minute film focuses on a psychiatrist who lapses into depression after his wife and daughter are killed in an accident. One of his patients claims to be a time traveller, and the doctor is torn between believing him and declaring him insane. Youssef Alimam’s latest documentary short film, Libido, about sexual taboos in Egypt, recently garnered positive reviews when it was screened during Egypt’s Ismailia Film Festival.
 


Two Egyptian films will be screened out of competition as part of DIFF’s Arabian Nights Selection: Al-Me'adiya (The Ferry), director Attia Amin’s 2013 moving social drama, and Al-Mumiaa (The Mummy: The Night of Counting the Years), Shadi Abdel-Salam’s 1969 world-renowned classic, which was restored to original quality by Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Foundation in 2009, and recently topped DIFF’s list of the 100 Greatest Arab Films.

 

Programme:

Monday, 9 December

3.45pm
The Mice Room
Mall of the Emirates, Screen 6

6.45pm
Waves
Mall of the Emirates, Screen 10

9pm
My Name is Mostafa Khamis
Mall of the Emirates, Screen 11

9.15pm
The Ferry
Mall of the Emirates, Screen 6

Tuesday, 10 December

6pm
Factory Girl
Mall of the Emirates, Screen 6

9.45pm
Underground on the Surface
Mall of the Emirates, Screen 9

Wednesday, 11 December

12.45pm
My Name is Mostafa Khamis
Mall of the Emirates, Screen 6

4.15pm
Waves
Mall of the Emirates, Screen 10

6.30pm
Speed of Light (along with other short films in the ‘Muhr Arab Short 1’ package)
Mall of the Emirates, Screen 9

9.15pm
The Square
Mall of the Emirates, Screen 11

Thursday, 12 December

3.15pm
The Square
Mall of the Emirates, Screen 11

8pm
Underground on the Surface
Burj Park

Saturday, 14 December

8pm
The Mummy: The Night of Counting the Years
Burj Park
 

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