Posted by Larry Gleeson
By Cristiana Missori
CAIRO – Eight square meters for 25 prisoners – American journalists, Muslim Brothers, common citizens – who were arrested by Egyptian police during violent demonstrations following the ouster of Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi in the summer of 2013 star in the opening film of the International film festival in Cairo.
These characters, detained together for a whole day, are featured in Eshtebak (Clash) by Egyptian director Mohamed Diab, that opened the section ‘Un certain regard’ at the latest Cannes Film Festival.
The movie will be presented on Friday night at the Cairo event, which runs until November 24.
It was greenlighted by censors in July and hit movie theaters. However, the film was pulled out a few days later, as denounced by the filmmaker.
And the festival’s artistic director, Youssef Rizkallah, has decided to screen other controversial movies.
Several films focusing on key issues of the 2011 revolution and 2013 protests will be screened in the section dedicated to new Egyptian cinema (eight films have been produced between 2015 and 2016).
They focus on the violence of those terrible days of Raba’a Al Adaweya – when over 600 civilians were killed and thousands wounded – as well as human and sentimental relations during those events with the uprising on the background.
One of them is Sins of the Flesh by Haram El Gasad, which is set in a remote farm in the Egyptian countryside where echoes of the uprising impact the lives of protagonists, and Out of Order by Mahmoud Kamel and Bitter Moon by Hany Khalifa. A box-office hit to be screened is also Hepta: the Last Lecture by Hadi El-Bagoury, a movie based on the best seller by the same name.
There are lighter stories that talk about sex (never explicitly), food and betrayal, like the latest work by Yousry Nasrallah, Books, Meadows and Lovely Faces, presented a few days ago at the Medfilm festival in Rome. Another is the latest movie by Mohamed Khan, Before the Summer Crowds, and Nawara by Hala Khalil focusing on social inequality in the country.