Samir Farid Collection: Akkasah in Abu Dhabi launches photos from Egypt cinematic history

Ati Metwaly , Tuesday 12 Nov 2019

Akkasah: Center for Photography at New York University Abu Dhabi is specialised in archiving the photographic heritage of the Middle East and North Africa

Photo from film Nargis (1948). Actors in Image: Ismail Yasin, Nour El Hoda. (Photo: Akkasah: Center for Photography)

Akkasah Center for Photography at New York University Abu Dhabi has released the first instalment of a new collection of photos from Egyptian cinema, most dating between 1943 and 1960.

The collection honours late film critic, writer and historian Samir Farid, and is named after him.

According to information released by Akkasah on Twitter and Facebook, the Samir Farid Collection includes 615 newly digitalised photos, from over 3,000 images acquired by Akkasah from various photographic studios and individual photographers and their private collections.

"The negatives include images from 265 Egyptian films produced between 1937-1988," reads the Akkasah website.


Among the collection's first instalment are photos from numerous well-known Egyptian movies, such as Les Misérables (1943), Dreams of Love (1945), Everybody is Singing (1945), Fruit of the Crime (1947), Nargis (1948), Eve's Daughters (1954), The Fault of My Love (1958), The Woman Who Traps Men (1960) and Wedding Night Widow (1974). 

Many of the films are directed by prominent filmmakers and feature the stars of that era.

Farid (1 December, 1943 – 4 April, 2017) studied film at the Higher Institute of Dramatic Arts at the Academy of Arts in Cairo. In 1965, he started working as a journalist for the state-run Egyptian publication Al-Gomhoreya, where he spent 38 years, before moving on to the independent Al-Masry Al-Youm in 2004.

He received many awards over the course of his career, with his last honorary award being the Berlinale Camera Award at the annual Berlin International Film Festival (2017).

Samir Farid
Samir Farid

Farid was widely recognised as one of the most prominent film personalities of the Arab world.

He headed the Cairo International Film Festival more than once.

Farid also served as a jury member in many international festivals, including the Oberhausen Film Festival, the Torino Film Festival, and the Venice Film Festival. 

His achievements and extensive contributions to the world of cinema were rewarded with the Cannes Film Festival Gold Medal in both 1997 and 2000, the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Osian’s Cinefan Festival in New Delhi in 2012 and at the Dubai International Film Festival in 2013.

He also authored and translated over 60 books on film and film history. Farid has also published a number of his critical reviews and essays on cinema in Al-Ahram Weekly.

Photo from film Fruit of the Crime (1947). Actors in Image: Rawheya Khaled, Zouzou Shakib. (Photo: Akkasah: Center for Photography)

Apart from the Samir Farid Collection, other collections dedicated to Egypt in Akkasah's archive include Daily Life in Egypt in the 1910s (101 photos), Aden-Egypte (132 photos) and Scenes of Egypt during World War I (28 photos). 

Akkasah aims to "explore the histories and contemporary practices of photography in the Middle East and North Africa, and to establish a major hub for scholarly research on photography in the region."

Akkasah digitizes, catalogues and preserves photographic collections and make them available for scholarly research and general consultation both online via Akkasah website and in person at the NYU campus in Abu Dhabi.

Currently, Akkasah's archive consists of "over 33,000 images, including prints, negatives and slides, of which over 10,000 are currently available online," the website reads.

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