Egypt Cinema and Music
According to payhelpcenter, Egyptian cinema is the most important and prolific in the Arab world, tracing its history back to 1927-28, when the first genuinely national films (Leila, Zeinab) were produced. It is also the only one on the African continent that has long had a full-cycle production and distribution infrastructure. After all, the Cairo Festival was an international showcase and reference point for all the productions of the area throughout the 1980s. After seasons of commercial production, in 1939 it was Kemal Selim with L’operetta who attempted a more ambitious operation without immediate commercial purposes. After the fall of King Fārūq (1952) and the advent of the Republic, cinema opened up to foreign cinematographic lessons, mainly to neorealism. Throughout the 1950s, in fact, the works of Salah Abū Seif (above all we remember a later film, The Water Bearer is Dead, 1977) and above all of Yūsuf Shāhin (Youssef Chahine in France), the most famous Egyptian filmmaker, also known for numerous works made in collaboration with the French production. Shāhin’s most significant films include Central Station (1958), with which he made himself known in Europe, The Return of the Prodigal Son (1976), one of his not infrequent mixes of drama and music with strong political connotations, Alessandria… why? (1980), L’altra (1999), presented at the Cannes Film Festival. The attempt to nationalize the film industry ended in 1967, favoring the rebirth of a private industry which, however, was benefited by the arrival of television and the birth of some film clubs. In the 1960s, two exceptional personalities emerged, those of Tawfīq Salah (The rioters, The diary of a country judge, 1966-68), who had to emigrate to Syria due to his extreme leftist positions, and by Shadi Abdel Salam (1930-1986), with a fascinating language between modern figurativeness and the recovery of tradition.
After the crisis of the seventies, Egyptian cinema regained vigor both with the authors of the New cinema and with those of the next generation (who started working in the nineties) renewing once again, albeit in the sign of continuity with the past, some of the traditional genres (realism, comedy, melodrama). For the way to invent new narrative and visual horizons, full of desire and sensuality, using film and video, Yusri Nasrallah, Ussama Fawzi, Radwan al-Kashef, Atef Hatata and Ahmed Atef deserve a prominent place. The films of Y. Nasrallah, former assistant of Y. Chahine, explore Egyptian history during the presidency of Nasser (Sariqa ṣayfiyya, 1988, Summer Robberies), bourgeois society (Mercedes, 1992), the disappointments of an actor who returned to Cairo from Paris (al-Madīna, 1999, The city). The privileged place of U. Fawzi’s cinema is Cairo with its streets and confusion observed with effective humor, as in ῾Afārīt el-asfalt (1995, The asphalt devils) and Ğannat al-šayāṭīn (1999, Il paradiso of demons). R. al-Kashef, who died in 2002, left few but significant titles: Lih ya banafsiǧ (1992, also known as Violets are blue) set in a popular district of the capital, ῾Araq al-balaḥ (1998, The wine of dates), al-Sāḥir (2001, Il mago), a portrait of a magician fascinated by life and worried about his beautiful daughter. A. Hatata dealt with the history of his country in Aḥlām saġīra (1992, Little dreams). A. Atef made his debut in 2000 with the ambitious Omar 2000, in which a thirty year old in crisis lives fantastic, sentimental and musical adventures, dreaming of a visa for the United States. Among the most current names we remember Ahmad Abdalla (Heliopolis, 2010; Microphone, 2011; Farsh w Ghata, in English Rags & Tatters, 2013); Ibrahim El Batout (El-Shetta Elly Fat, in English Winter of Discontent of 2012); Hala Lotfy (El-Khorog lil Nahar, in English Coming Forth by Day, 2013); Magi Morgan (Asham, 2013); and Nadine Khan (Harag we Marag, in English Chaos, Disorder, 2013); many of these films have been seen, and have been awarded, in some festivals in Italy.
Under the Arab and Turkish dominating cultures, the autochthonous vein dispersed. In recent times, Egypt was one of the first Arab countries to open up to European musical culture, but also among the first to encourage the study and enhancement of the national tradition. In fact, alongside institutions linked to the Western repertoire (such as the Cairo Opera House, for which Verdi wrote Aida in 1871), others arose, such as the School of Oriental Music (1925) and the Institute of Oriental Music (1929), which favored the recovery of indigenous expressive forms.