Egyptian director sends defiant Cannes message

Egyptian director Yousry Nasrallah, in Cannes with an Arab Spring drama, defiantly vowed Thursday that the Islamists jockeying for power back home would never succeed in stifling art.

"In a context where cinema is being attacked as a sin in Egypt by so-called Islamist parties, this film is not so much a political commitment as a commitment to cinema," he said after a press screening of "After the Battle".

Artists and liberals in the Arab state are concerned that the Islamists who have emerged as the strongest political force in the new Egypt will seek to curtail artistic freedom.

"Our presence here in Cannes is a wonderful message to all those who want to put an end to art in Egypt," Nasrallah said, translating from Arabic the words of lead actor Bassem Samra, who sat next to him at a festival press conference.

Veteran director Nasrallah's two-hour film focuses on the messy aftermath of last year's Arab Spring, when Cairo's Tahrir Square was the epicentre of a revolt that led to the ousting of long-time strongman Hosni Mubarak.

The movie, the sole overtly political work among the 22 films competing for the Palme d'Or top prize, kicks off with what came to be known as the Battle of the Camel, when men on horses and camels charged into the crowd of protestors.

It then hones in on one of the riders, anti-revolutionary Mahmoud, played by Samra, and his complicated interaction with a middle-class, free-thinking young woman called Reem, played by Mena Shalaby.

The film touches on issues like class, gender and corruption and provides a portrait of the people of Nazlet, who live in the shadow of the pyramids and traditionally made their living off the tourist trade that dried up after the revolution.

Nasrallah told reporters here that he had funding in place for a film before last year's revolution, but when the demonstrations started he realised he had to make a movie about it instead.

"Our emotions were focused on these events and I saw that this was the film," said the director.

He set to work on the Egyptian-French co-production without a script and persuaded his actors to take part without knowing where their roles would take them.

Last year's Cannes festival saw the controversial film "18 Days" premiered during a day honouring Egypt and its revolution.

The film, consisting of 10 shorts by different directors, covers the popular revolt that began on January 25 and led up to the fall of Mubarak's regime after more than 30 years in power.

Egypt's first post-revolution presidential elections are due on May 23-24, with the contest narrowing down to a choice between secularists linked to the old guard and Islamists who hope to repeat their success in parliamentary elections after Mubarak's ouster.

Hardline Islamists have frequently used the country's courts to punish movie directors and artists whom they accuse of insulting Islam.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Biker Beauty: Honda and David's Salon Pampering Day
    Biker Beauty: Honda and David's Salon Pampering Day

    Honda Philippines Inc. (HPI), and David's Salon recently held the awarding ceremony for the Metro Manila winner of the David's Salon Scooter Raffle Promo at the 5th level of SM Megamall Building A. Loyal patron Maria Theresa Guevara took home a brand new Honda Click 125i. Present to grace the occasion were David's Salon Creative Director Laura Charlton and HPI Assistant Vice-President for Sales and Marketing Hideo Nishinaga.To the delight of all those in attendance, guests were treated to …

  • ‘Next leader must not be newbie’
    ‘Next leader must not be newbie’

    Vice President Jejomar Binay believes the next president of the Philippines must have vast experience and a long track record in governance and in dealing with crises. “I am very much convinced that the local government is the best training ground for those who want to run for national government positions,” he said. Binay said he is determined to run for president in 2016 on the strength of his competence and track record. …

  • Massacre suspect tests negative for poisoning
    Massacre suspect tests negative for poisoning

    A suspect in the Maguindanao massacre case who had been examined at the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) tested negative for poisoning, medical records released yesterday showed. However, the Quezon City court handling the multiple murder case resolved to isolate Police Officer 1 Pia Kamidon from the rest of the accused detained at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig for his safety. In a two-page order, Regional Trial Court Branch 221 assisting Judge Genie Gapas-Agbada ordered jail officials to …

  • ‘Homework first before Facebook’
    ‘Homework first before Facebook’

    President Aquino elicited laughter from students here as he reminded them to open books first before Facebook. “Finish your assignments first before making a raid in the Clash of Clans,” Aquino said, referring to a popular online game. In a speech during the turnover yesterday of two new three-story buildings at the Tarlac National High School, he said the government could only provide opportunities for learning but the rest of the work would be up to the students. The new school buildings …

  • Espina resignation confirmed; Noy looks for replacement
    Espina resignation confirmed; Noy looks for replacement

    President Aquino ended speculations yesterday and confirmed that Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina had indeed resigned as officer-in-charge of the Philippine National Police. As of this time, we are conducting various interviews and checks on the various candidates,” Aquino told reporters at the Tarlac National High School in Tarlac City. Aquino had kind words for Espina, saying that he stood by and defended the 44 slain police Special Action Force (SAF) commandos in the operation in …

  • Palace welcomes G7 concern over sea reclamation
    Palace welcomes G7 concern over sea reclamation

    President Aquino welcomed yesterday the Group of Seven industrialized countries’ expression of concern over rising tension in the West Philippine Sea and South China Sea, calling it a clear indication of the global scope of the problem ramped up by China’s massive reclamation activities in disputed waters. In Tarlac City where he led the turnover of new classrooms, Aquino told reporters that goodwill and not tension must prevail in the West Philippine Sea and South China Sea, where territorial …

  • DepEd, TESDA tie up for K to 12
    DepEd, TESDA tie up for K to 12

    The Department of Education (DepEd) has partnered with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) in the first two years of implementation of the K to 12 program. “We will use TESDA centers as technical-vocational laboratories for senior high school,” DepEd Secretary Armin Luistro said during the inauguration of 30 new classrooms at the Tarlac National High School yesterday. The classrooms were constructed in partnership with the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. …

  • SE Asia Stocks-Philippine falls on foreign selling; others flat to weaker

    BANGKOK, April 17 (Reuters) - Southeast Asian stock markets ended flat to weaker on Friday as Philippine stocks slid on selling led by foreign funds and Singapore shares extended losses with investors ... …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options