Khaled Youssef refuses to direct any film produced by the Brotherhood

Iman El Hawari, Friday 24 Feb 2012

Director Khaled Youssef talks to Ahram Online while at the Luxor African Film Festival, where he gears himself up for debates over censorship; says no power on earth can stop me from making films


Renowned Egyptian film director Khaled Youssef announced that he doesn't accept the idea of directing any film produced by the Muslim Brotherhood because he does not want anyone controlling his artistic vision.

The Brotherhood has the right to produce films that portray their ideology, he mediates, but the final verdict will be up to audience.

Youssef told Ahram Online while he was in Luxor for the African Film Festival that the Brotherhood will not be able to offer cinema unless they follow the rules of cinema - not the rules of the Brotherhood.

"The rules of the cinema are what count. With the Brotherhood trying to come into the cinematic world, they have to respect its foundations, principles and the reality of its tendencies."

When asked regarding his cinematic adaptation of the controversial book Children of the Alley, for which Nagiub Mahfouz won the Nobel Prize, Youssef answered that he did not wrong religion by agreeing to work on that project.

Furthermore, the director defended the book: "The novel does not criticise God, or Al-Azhar would have banned it.”

Youssef insists that he completely rejects the control of Al-Azhar, which monitors works of art. Al-Azhar is the Sunni world's religious authority, based in Cairo.

Art critics should monitor the arts in a fair and professional manner, he suggested. Artist's have the duty to bring the audience and society to awareness on certain subjects. It is the role of artists to create and the role of society to accept or reject, he says.

Youssef predicts that Egyptian artists will struggle with Islamic forces if they try to limit their creativity, like the past regime did. He pointed out that the artists are forming a Front for the Protection of Creativity against radical ideology.

“Even if the person running the country was Hitler himself," Youssef said, he will put forward explicit scenes in his films as they are.

The country is ruled by the constitution, he expounds, not any one person or party. Creativity and art must be protected, while respecting the traditions and norms of the society. “No power on earth can stop me from making any film in Egypt,” he asserted his rights as an artist.

The director announced that he is getting ready to start filming Children of the Alley as soon as the script is done. He clarified that the script would reflect the novel, but he has his own vision for the direction, as does the script writer..

Reflecting on the film festival in Luxor, Youssef criticised fallen president Mubarak, and before him late president Sadat, for not giving importance to the value of African relationships, especially the Nile Basin countries.

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