From Sheikh Jackson to Photocopy: Egypt's strong presence at New York's Arab Cinema Week

Ahram Online , Saturday 18 Nov 2017

Several Egyptian films are being screened during the ongoing New York Arab Cinema Week, with Sheikh Jackson and Photocopy featured at the opening and closing nights respectively

Arab Cinema Week
Stills from the films screened during the Arab Cinema Week, New York -- Top row, from left to right: the opening film Sheikh Jackson, and the closing film Photocopy. Bottom row, from left to right: Ali, the Goat and Ibrahim, A Present from the Past, Mawlana, A Man Wanted.

Egyptian films are a highlight of the New York Arab Cinema Week, an event that runs between 17 and 23 November at New York City's Cinema Village.

The festival opened with Amr Salama's Sheikh Jackson and will close with yet another Egyptian film, Photocopy, directed by Tamer Ashry.

In between Sheikh Jackson and Photocopy, four other films by Egyptian directors will be screened: Ali, the Goat and Ibrahim directed by Sherif El-Bendary, A Present from the Past by Kawthar Younis, Mawlana by Magdy Ahmed Ali and A Man Wanted, by Mohamed Ali.

The Egyptian films will be screened within a total of 20 other films from the Arab world, featuring works by directors from Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Lebanon, Algeria and the UAE, among others, as well as films from European countries that focus on the Arab World.

The opening film, Sheikh Jackson, is directed by Amr Salama and stars Ahmed El-Fishawy, Ahmed Malek, Maged El-Kedwany and Amina Khalil.

Sheikh Jackson is set on the day of Michael Jackson’s death in 2009, and centres on a sheikh who was dubbed "Jackson" by his friends during his schooldays. The story goes on to explore the emotions stirred by the popstar's death, sparking a series of existential questions within the sheikh.

Sheikh Jackson was nominated to represent Egypt in the foreign films section at the next Oscars in 2018. The final nominations for the Oscar's Foreign Language Films will be announced on 23 January 2018, and the 90th Academy Awards ceremony will take place 4 March 2018.

The Arab Cinema Week's closing film, Photocopy, is directed by Tamer Ashry and features stars such as Mahmood Hemaidah, Sherine Reda and Farah Youssef, among others.

Acording to IMDb, the film focuses on a retired man in Cairo who begins to learn about the extinction of dinosaurs. This sets off a series of events that will give his life renewed meaning.

A romantic comedy, A Man Wanted is about a career woman (Shams) in the late thirties, wanting to have a child. She opts for a Facebook call; a hefty sum in return of a sperm donor who meets her terms and conditions. Directed by Mohamed Ali, the film stars Nelly Karim and Mohamed Mamdouh.

The debut feature for director Sherif El-Bendary, Ali, the Goat and Ibrahim made its world premiere at the 13th Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF), earning Egyptian actor Ali Sobhy the Muhr Feature Award for his performance in the film. The film's screenplay was written by Ahmed Amer and is based on a story by Ibrahim El-Batout, and stars Ahmed Magdy, Salwa Mohamed Ali and Nahed El-Sebaee.

The film centres on a man who believes that his dead girlfriend has been reincarnated as a goat, which he names Nada. At the healer’s clinic, Ali meets Ibrahim, and they are both diagnosed as being cursed.

A Present from the Past is the first feature-length documentary by young Egyptian filmmaker Kawthar Younis. The protagonist of the film is Younis’ father, who receives a present from his daughter to travel to Italy in search of his former love.

The filmmaker shot her film on hidden cameras, of which her father was unaware, including her mobile phone.

Directed by Magdy Ahmed Ali, the film Mawlana (The Preacher) is an adaptation of the 2012 novel of the same title by Ibrahim Eissa, who co-wrote the film’s script with Ali.

The film follows Sheikh Hatem El-Shennawi, a new rising star among Egyptian preachers, having thousands of followers, notably among the youth. He gains the interest of the media, as well as the state security apparatus and those in power.

Embodied by Amr Saad, Sheikh Hatem El-Shennawi strays from cliches and stereotypes as a populist preacher, allowing the director to create an eloquent portrayal of the character’s dilemmas after his quick rise to fame.

Launched in 2016, the Arab Cinema Week is New York's first festival dedicated to Arab cinema with daily screenings of movies from across the Arab world, and panels with celebrity actors and directors. 

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