Directed by Marwan Hamed, The Yacoubian Building (2006) will be screened on the first day of the Queer Arab Film Festival, which kicks off on 6 August and will run for three months with weekly screenings.
The Yacoubian Building (Imarat Yacubian) with a script written by Wahid Hamid is based on the best-selling Arab novel wiht the same title, released in 2005, by Egyptian author Alaa Al Aswany. The book has been translated to 15 languages and the movie was among the highest budgeted films in Egyptian motion picture history, with a star-packed cast: Adel Imam, Nour El-Sherif, Khaled El-Sawi, Hind Sabri, Youssra, Somaya El-Khashab, Salah Abdallah, Ahmed Bedeir, and Ahmed Rateb among others.
The controversial novel which took the Arab world by the storm touches on topics of corruption, drugs, homosexuality, exploitation and extremism. It takes place during the first Gulf War, in one of the Cairo's downtown buildings serving as a setting for a presentation of a microcosm of Egyptian society.
The story presents several social strata, from the poor to the upscale elite, shedding light on depression and disillusion. "The human factor is the most important factor in The Yacoubian Building," Al-Aswany commented in an interview. "It is the human aspect that will allow the Western reader to feel the drama in the book."
The film won several awards at the Cairo National Festival for Egyptian Cinema (2007), Bronze Zenith for best actor at the Montreal Film Festival (2006), an award for the Best New Narrative Filmmaker at the Tribeca Film Festival (2006) among other prizes, recognitions and nominations.
The film screening at the University of Sydney will be preceded by an introduction and Q/A session with Dr. Lucia Sorbera (Arabic). The film duration is 165 minutes.
Queer Arab Film Festival is part of a project titled 'A Continuing Spring: Arab and Australian Views on Social Justice, Equal Economic Development and Cultures of Freedom', an initiative by the Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies at the University of Sydney, Australia.
For more information about other movies screened during the festival, download the festival's brochure here.