Although there are fewer restrictions on social gatherings compared to last year, the situation at Egyptian film theatres is still unclear in the buildup to the Eid Al-Fitr season, traditionally the most popular and profitable for cinema. Only a handful of films have been announced.
According to film professionals, some 15 new Egyptian films in the genres of comedy, thriller, action and drama are ready for release.
Many had been due for release when the pandemic hit and were therefore delayed. But, largely for fear that the pandemic will prevent people from going to theatres it is not clear when they will be shown. Producers and distributors have by and large avoided making any definite announcements.
Through his Instagram account, Egyptian actor Karim Fahmy was the first star to announce that his film, Dido, directed by Amr Salah, will be released during Eid.
Starring Fahmy, who also wrote the screenplay, the film also features Bayoumi Fouad, Ahmed Fathy, Mohamed Tharwat, and Huda El Mufti. Fahmy’s statement was confirmed by the production company, Al-Sobky, on its Facebook page.
The film was supposed to be screened during the Eid last year but due to the pandemic its release was delayed pending better opportunities in theaters – an incomparably more profitable mode of dissemination compared to online platforms. Dido is a typical Eid comedy about a group of friends planning to rob a rich scientist who retaliates by shrinking them, using his scientific knowhow.
Another film is Some People Don’t Revisit the Marriage Officiant directed by Ahmed El Gendy. It stars Karim Abdulaziz, Dina El Sherbiny, Maged El Kedwany, Bayoumy Fouad, Amr Abdul Geli and Mahmoud Hemeida. Although it was finished in December 2019 for release during the winter of 2020, its release was delayed twice in May and July 2020 due to the pandemic restrictions. Where it will be this Eid is not clear.
Not Me, directed by Sara Wafiq, starring the pop singer Tamer Hosny (also the screenwriter), Hala Shiha, Maged El Kedwany, Haggag Abdel Azim and Sawsan Bader is another 2020 production whose release was delayed last year. Although Tamer Hosny recently posted the film’s poster on Instagram there is no confirmation that it will be shown this Eid. The film is a comedy that follows Hassan who suffers from a psychological condition, whose ill mother is the centre of his life.
Another comedy is Ahmed Noterdame, directed by Mahmoud Karim, starring Ramez Galal, Ghada Adel, Khaled El Sawy, Bayoumy Fouad, Hamdy Al-Merghany and Entsar. The film was finished in December 2020 after shooting was repeatedly postponed due to the pandemic. It follows the story of Ahmed Noterdam, a journalist who suffers from excessive thinness which leads him to many embarrassing situations so he decides to seek medication. Ahmed Noterdame is another unconfirmed item on Eid Al-Fitr screening list.
The Man and The Mongoose is another comedy whose production was repeatedly delated in 2020 – until it was finished last September. Until January 2021 the date of the film release had not been announced.
Having big names including the renowned director Sherif Arafa, the iconic comedy star Mohamed Henidy, and the renowned film star Menna Shalaby, the film producer Hisham Abdel Khalik has been seeking the perfect, and although the Eid season was mentioned on different occasions, this has not been confirmed. The film follows a poor government employee who faces a lot of troubles because of his father’s profession, until he falls for a girl who tries to help him.
There are two more 2020 productions that belong to the action genre which are expected to join the Eid screening gala. One is The Knower: Younis’s Return, directed by Ahmad Alaa Aldeeb, starring Ahmed Ezz, Ahmad Fahmy, Mahmoud Hemeida, Mostafa Khater, Rakeen Saad and Carmen Bsaibes.
Produced by Synergy Films, the film was finished in December 2019 when its trailer attracted over four million views on YouTube. According to the production company the film which – shot in four countries: Egypt, Malaysia, Italy and Bulgaria – is “the biggest production of its kind in Egyptian cinema”.
The film which was supposed to be released in July 2020 but it was delayed due to the pandemic is also expected this Eid, though its release has not been confirmed. The film tackles cybercrime through the story of Younis, a man who lives with his wife and their baby girl, as he decides to rob a bank through the internet and finds himself being chased by a dangerous gang.
The other eagerly awaited action movie is The Spider directed by Ahmed Nader Galal and starring Ahmed El Sakka, Mona Zaki, Dhaffer L’Abidine, and Youssra Al Lozy. The film was supposed to be released for Eid in 2020 but its shooting was delayed because of the pandemic, and it wasn’t finished until December 2020. The film is an action thriller that revolves around a dangerous drug dealer who is able to manufacture new drugs and sell them but falls into numerous traps and ends up being chased by the police.
In August 2020, Mohamed Abdul Rahman, the director of Renegades of Europe, stated that his debut film is ready to be released at October 2020: “We finished shooting in Egypt and Georgia in early January. We are looking forward to its release at film theaters after the end of the pandemic restrictions, hopefully next October,” he said.
But the action thriller which stars the Lebanese pop singer Haifa Wehbe, and the Egyptian film star Ahmed Al Fishawy has not been released to date, which makes it another nominee for the Eid movie list, although this has not been confirmed. Renegades of Europe is about the father of newly born sextuplets, who due to poverty ends up selling three of his children. When his wife finds out, she decides to leave him and to travel abroad to face a series of conflicts.
Mohammed Al Sobky, the producer of Kamar 14, announced on Instagram last February that the film will be released this summer. The film which was finished at the end of 2020, directed by Hady Al Bagouri, starring Khaled Al-Nabawy, Ahmed El Fishawy, Shirin Reda, Ghada Adel, and Asmaa Abou El Yazeed is a romantic drama that involves five different love stories. Despite media expectations that the film might be shown during Eid, this has not been confirmed yet by the production company.
Last October, the trailer of Mousa, directed by Peter Mimi achieved over nine million views when released on the YouTube. The sci-fi movie is about an engineering college student who invents a first-of-its-kind robot in an attempt to avenge his father’s death and achieve justice, which has him pursued by the authorities. It stars Karim Mahmoud Abdelaziz, Eyad Nassar, Omar Al-Shennawy, Dhaffer L’Abidine, and Ahmed Hatem. The film – produced by three of the biggest film production companies in Egypt: Synergy Films, Misr International Films, and New Century Production – was finished last October. Although it is already on several media lists for the Eid, its release has not been confirmed.
Last April the renowned Egyptia film star Hussein Fahmy stated that his latest film The Priest is expected to be released during Eid. The film is directed by Othman Abu Laban and stars, alongside Fahmy, Eyad Nassar, Dorra, Mahmoud Hemeida, and Fathy Abdul Wahab. The shooting of the film which was supposed to start in May 2020 but was postponed due to pandemic restrictions. Although it was already finished early this year it has not been formally announced whether it will be released this Eid.
For Rent, written and directed by Islam Belal, starring Khaled El Sawy and Shery Adel, premiered at the Luxor African Film Festival last March (winning the Radwan Al Kashef Award) and was supposed to be released at film theatres in the same month but had to be postponed. This places it at the top of the list of Eid predictions. The film is a light comedy about Mukhtar who lives in a rented apartment and finds himself experiencing bizarre incidents that happen there every day.
There is no formal announcement regarding the release of One Second, a romantic comedy by Akram Farid, starring Dina El Sherbiny, Mostafa Khater, Fathy Abdul Wahab, Sawsan Badr and Mahmoud Hemeida. But a Facebook post by Dina El Sherbiny saying “One Second, Eid Al-Fitr” was taken as news of its release.
Last January, Ahmed Khaled Mousa, the director of March 30, announced that his film is ready to be released within a few days. “The production company of the film decided to release it very soon,” he said. But the film, a thriller starring Ahmed El Fishawy, Dina El Sherbiny, Asmaa Abou El Yazeed and Ahmed Khaled Saleh, has not been released yet.
Although several news items refer to Mama is Pregnant, by Mahmoud Karim as a Eid movie, Synergy Films, the relevant production company, has not formally confirmed the news on its website or social media accounts. The film is a light comedy starring Layla Olwi, Bayyumy Fouad, Mohamed Sallam, and Samy Maghawry.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 6 May, 2021 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly