Director Amir Ramses. Photo: Courtesy of Ramses
The Ismailiya International Film Festival for Documentaries and Shorts will kick off on Tuesday, 3 June with Egyptian director Amir Ramses's Jews of Egypt: End of a Journey as the opening film. This sequel to Ramses's Jews of Egypt, which was showcased at international festivals to hefty praise and a number of awards, will also participate in the festival's Long Documentary Films Competition. The festival runs until 8 June.
In the first documentary, filmmaker Ramses explores the lives of the Egyptian Jewish community in the first half of the 20th century. The work focuses on the key events that shaped their lives, namely the birth of the state of Israel in 1948, Egypt's 1952 Revolution, which ended the British occupation, and the tripartite attack of 1956, which forced them into exile.
The documentary also reminds viewers of the influence of Egyptian Jews in various sectors during the first half of the 20th century, including the industries of music, cinema and retail.
Ramses started researching this largely self-funded film in 2008 and began shooting it in 2009. Filmed mostly between Cairo and Paris, the film is built on personal testimonials, giving the work a nostalgic quality besides its historical value.
Ramses started the project with the question of the Egyptian identity clearly in mind. In an interview with Ahram Online in February 2013, a few weeks before the film's commercial release, he admitted, "Like any Egyptian living here within the past 10 years, I have been consumed with the quest of defining Egyptian identity."
In this second film, Jews of Egypt: End of a Journey, the filmmaker remains committed to surveying the development of Egyptian identity and society's journey towards, or away from, tolerance and acceptance of others.