Art Alert: First Jews of Egypt documentary to be screened at Zawya

Ahram Online, Monday 25 Aug 2014

Cairo's art house cinema is now showing original documentary in addition to the sequel - with a special screening planned for 27 August with the director on hand

Jews of Egypt
Jews of Egypt Still

The sequel to the highly acclaimed documentary Jews of Egypt has been screening regularly at Zawya since Wednesday, 20 August at Odeon Cinema in downtown Cairo.

Due to audience requests, Zawya is now screening the first part of the documentary during the 1pm slot at the art house cinema and will be holding a special screening for it on Wednesday, 27 August.

The special screening, set to take place at 6:30pm, will be followed by a talk with the film's director Amir Ramses along with Albert Arie, an Egyptian Jewish lawyer born in Cairo and a main character in the film, and Sherene Seikaly, assistant professor of history at the American University in Cairo and co-editor on Jadaliyya.

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 the project with the question of 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.

Zawya, launched in March 2014, is run by Misr International Films, the film company founded by the famed Egyptian director Youssef Chahine.

MIF says it hopes to expand Zawya to other neighbourhoods and governorates.

Since its inception, Zawya has screened films from Egypt's independent film movement as well as international selections that have garnered critical acclaim elsewhere but have never appeared in Egyptian cinemas.

Jews of Egypt: End of a Journey is the first documentary to screen in Zawya's regular schedule since its inception.

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