Locarno Film Festival to restore Egyptian director Yousry Nasrallah’s Bab El-Shams

Eslam Omar , Sunday 4 Jun 2023

Locarno Film Festival has started the process of restoring Egyptian director Yousry Nasrallah’s 2004 film Bab El-Shams (“The Gate of Sun”).

Egyptian director Yousry Nasrallah s Bab El-Shams
A shot from Egyptian director Yousry Nasrallah s Bab El-Shams that will be restored by Locarno Film Festival


Described as an “epic” and a “masterpiece” by the festival, the new 4K version of the film will be presented as part of the official selection of the 76th Locarno Film Festival, which takes place in the Swiss city next August.

“In collaboration with the holder of the rights for the film, Orange Studio, and thanks to the  Berlin- and Zurich-based partner of the festival, Cinegrell Laboratories, the restoration process is now underway,” stated the Swiss festival last week.

Produced by Humbert Balsan, Bab El-Shams, an adaptation of Elias Khoury's novel of the same name, initially premiered Out of Competition at the Cannes Film Festival in 2004.

The 278-minute drama stars Hiam Abbass, Béatrice Dalle, Rim Turkhi, Ahmad Al-Ahmad, Bassel Khayyat and Orwa Nyrabia, among others.

‘Epic Masterpiece’

The restoration process is being carried out through the festival’s Heritage Online project, a Locarno Pro initiative that gives new life to cinema heritage.

"Nasrallah's masterpiece is a political and lyrical film in which the director injects his irrepressible storytelling talent, observing with clarity the contradictions and sorrows of an endless conflict,” stated Locarno Film Festival’s Artistic Director Giona A. Nazzaro, adding that the film is both “epic and melodrama, spectacle and adventure, according to Nasrallah's refined taste, a great master of today's cinema”.

Since 2021, the festival has taken part in restoring several iconic films, including Nos vies privées (Our Private Lives, 2007) by Denis Côté and O Dia do Desespero by Manoel De Oliveira (1992), both of which were presented last year.

The acclaimed Egyptian director has expressed delight over the restoration, thanking the film producers, cast, crew, and the “supporters of the films”, including Nazzaro.

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