July 27th, 2008 marked the passing of the great Youssef Chahine. Between 1950 and 2007, the prolific Chahine directed more than 40 films in nearly every genre, from melodramas and musicals to documentaries and art films. An avid fan of Hollywood—but a critic of American foreign policy, fiercely loyal to his native film industry—but fiercely critical of Islamic fundamentalism, Chahine found a perfect balance between entertainment and political commentary in his films. The Cinematheque honors the memory of the filmmaker who was “by some measure the most celebrated Arab filmmaker of recent times” (Variety). Over the course of January and February 2010
Saturday, January 23, 7:30 p.m.
Cairo as seen by Chahine (al Qahira menauwwara bi Ahlaha)
Egypt, 1991, 35mm, color, 22 min.
In Arabic and French with English subtitles
Directed by Youssef Chahine
Part self-portrait, part travel-documentary, Chahine’s documentary short ruminates on the social and political problems that plague modern Cairo, even as it celebrates the city’s enduring beauty. New print!
Cairo Station (Bab el hadid)
Egypt, 1958, 35mm, b/w, 76 min.
In Arabic with English subtitles
Directed by Youssef Chahine
Chahine himself stars as a crippled newspaper vendor driven to kidnapping by burning, unrequited love. Arguably Chahine’s best film, this network narrative set in Cairo’s bustling central train station was an international hit upon its release, and remains one of the most popular films of all time among Egyptian audiences. Restored print!
Saturday, January 30, 7:30 p.m.
The Land (Al-ard)
Egypt, 1969, 35mm, color, 130 min. In Arabic with English subtitles Directed by Youssef Chahine With Handy Ahmed, Yehia Chahine
An adaptation of Abdel Rahman al-Sharqawi’s anti-royalist novel by the same title, The Land is an epic about the 1930s struggle between starving peasants and a corrupt Pasha. Intensely moving and strongly nationalist, Chahine’s 1969 film was recently named the best Egyptian film of all time in a poll of the nation’s critics. New print!
Saturday, February 20, 7:30 p.m.
The Sparrow (Al-asfour)
Egypt, 1972, 35mm, color, 100 min. In Arabic with English subtitles Directed by Youssef Chahine With Salah Kabil, Ali El Scherif
This episodic political drama finds deep-seated Egyptian corruption at the intersection of plotlines following a policeman, a soldier, and a journalist at the outbreak of the 1967 6-Day War with Israel. Gritty realism mixes with dreamy expressionism in a film that was banned by the Egyptian government and awarded the nation’s top cultural prize in the same year.
Saturday, February 27, 7:30 p.m.
Alexandria…Why? (Iskanderija… lih?)
Egypt, 1978, 35mm, color, 133 min. Directed by Youssef Chahine With Ahmed Zaky, Naglaa Fathi
This first installment in Chahine’s autobiographical series on modern Egypt tells the story of a young boy who can dream only of Hollywood while the Second World War rages outside. Banned for its liberal sexual politics at home (supporting characters include gay and interfaith couples), Alexandria… Why? took home the Special Jury Prize at the Berlin Film Festival abroad.
Series funded by the African Studies Program. Special thanks to Jake Perlin (BAM Cinematek), Catherine Reiland (African Studies Program), Aliko Songolo (Department of French and Italian, African Languages & Literature) and Alex O. Williams (AFD / Typecast Films)
For more information regarding these movies, visit: http://cinema.wisc.edu/series/2010_spring/chahine.htm