New Era in Egyptian Cinema


Gone are the days when Egyptians gathered on Eid to watch entertainment that consisted of song and dance. Cinema too has been subtly affected by the January 25 revolution.

Film producer Ahmad al-Sabki described his movie as being appropriate Eid watching for the whole family. “The theme is simple and funny. This movie is suitable for the Eid, it includes no indecent scenes and the audience will leave the theater satisfied.”

Since the January 25 revolution, there appears to be a shift in Egyptian cinema, one that will herald an era of “engaged art”. This phrase was coined by the former deputy of the Muslim Brotherhood, Muhssin Radi who wants to see cinema in Egypt characterized by engaged creativity.

“The Muslim Brotherhood believes in art as an authentic language that can play a role in developing society. I am talking about decent art that respects our values because I believe that innovation and ethics are two inseparable concepts,” said Radi.

This perceived shift has cast a shadow over the Egyptian art scene with artistes expressing fears about the Islamization of artistic innovation or art becoming a space of conflict with political parties using it to make their presence felt.

Tarek al-Shanaoui, an art critic, explained the emergence of this shift in perception. “There’s a vacancy in the political scene in Egypt and because the future is unknown, every party will spare no effort in trying to become the future kingmaker.”

On the other side of the screen, Egyptian audience is divided on this new artistic direction.

Some find cinema to now be well organized while others believe it must be reflect realities of the goals that led to the revolution ─ specifically the end of censorship.

The difference in opinion could lead to an artistic and cultural battle. It will be a fight between a group of artists who believe in worldly art that addresses all kinds of issues and affiliates of political movements, newcomers to Egyptian cinema, who champion the slogan of engagement and reservation, side stepping the issue of censorship.

Before making a decision on which side of the fight one is to stand on, one will have to judge the new cinema and the audiences it attracts.

Original report: Ahmed Osman

Adaptation: Stanela Khalil

Voice: Noora Faraj, Mustapha Ajbaili, Yousif Serif, Kifah Elzein