One day before the closing ceremony of the 21st
edition of the Ismailia International Film Festival for Documentaries and Shorts, Egyptian director Amr Bayoumi celebrated the world premiere of his latest documentary ‘Where Did Ramses Go?’
“It’s not an attempt to answer the question. It’s an impressionist approach to the history of Egypt since the 1950s from a personal perspective,” Bayoumi – who directed the last feature of late actor Mahmoud Morsi; Al-Gesr (1997) – told Ahram Online before the screening of his film at the Ismailia Cultural Palace on Monday.
In his film, Bayoumi skilfully uses precious footage he recorded himself during the 2006 relocation of a statue of Ramses II from a Cairo square of the same name, where the statue had stood since 1955.
While cleverly taking glimpses of Egypt’s history since the 1950s, tackling successive political changes up until the uprising of 2011 through archive photos and newspaper headlines, the director of almost 10 documentaries uses his life story as an approach to show the statue's relocation.
“I shot almost three hours of the relocation operation and it took me many years to decide the approach. Originally, I considered telling the story from the statue’s perspective before I settled on the idea of telling it from my own. That really made me work through many artistic issues that led to the final script we saw today,” Bayoumi explained during a symposium held after the screening.
Many critics showed appreciation for the film, while a few had some reservations about the display and the approach despite their agreement on the film’s quality and importance.
“I congratulate you on your good film, Amr. It really needs further viewing and analysis,” commented veteran Egyptian critic Magda Mourice during the symposium.
Egyptian DOP Said El-Shimi, who is being honoured during the 21st edition of the festival, strongly praised Bayoumi; “I am proud of you.”
The film proved entertaining to the audience, who laughed at the light humour of the director’s narration, and enthusiastic applauded the many cartoons displayed.
The music of the film, however, seemed unfitting for some, but others felt it was an important element of the entertaining show wisely designed by Bayoumi.
‘Where Did Ramses Go?’ is competing in the Long Documentary contest against many important films. The jury, headed by director Yousri Nasrallah, is revealing its final decision Tuesday.
Under the helm of critic Essam Zakaria, the current edition of the festival is gaining praise from audiences and critics for being well-organised and for its rich programme.
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