As the Eid film season approaches, Mohamed El-Assyouti surveys a not so promising vista
The Eid season will see five new films in movie theatres across the country. A crisis in local film production in the early 1990s saw numbers dropping from over 90 to 10 films per year in the space of two years alone. Since then the decades-long tradition whereby the film industry thrived on "the full pockets of holiday makers" during the Lesser and Greater Bairam feasts has never been properly maintained. With the recent boom, however, the most popular stars opt for the more lucrative summer -- and feast audiences have to do with the smaller names.
Director Mohamed Khan, well known for his harsh dramatic treatment of social issues, enters the Eid fair with Banat Wist Al-Balad (Downtown Girls), a film about two young women who work at a hairdresser's and a clothes shops, depicting their love relationships and friendship. The film, which blends social drama with comedy and romance, is written by Wissam Suleiman and stars Hind Sabri, Menna Shalabi, Mohamed Nagati and Khaled Abul-Naga. See Culture interview p 13
The title of Orid Khul'an (I Want a Khul' Divorce) is a pun on the classic film Orid Hallan (I Want a Solution) -- directed by Saïd Marzouq and starring Faten Hamama, Ahmed Mazhar and Rushdi Abaza -- the story of a woman who cannot obtain divorce from her husband due to the tedious legal procedures involved. Abolished by the new Khul' law, which came into effect in the past few years and was quickly made the subject of screenwriter Waheed Hamid's film Muhami Khul' (Khul' Lawyer), director Mohamed Yassin's debut, and starring Hani Ramzi and Dalia El-Beheiri. Orid Khul'an -- directed by Ahmed Awad, from a screenplay he co-wrote with Mohamed Salah El-Zahhar, starring Ashraf Abdel-Baqi and Hala Shiha -- is the second comedy to exploit the legal development. It depicts a woman who uses the privileges of the new law to threaten her husband -- to amazing effect.
Singer Mohamed Fouad's vehicle Ghawi Hobb (Addicted to Love), written by his long-time collaborator Ahmed El-Beih, who scripted the singer's biographic Ismailia Raiyeh Gayy (Ismailia Two-Ways) and the Abdel-Halim-formula rehash Rihlit Hobb (Love Journey), is screening in 70 movie theatres across the country, making it the distributors' greatest bid to make a hit. Given that the audience reception of the singer's later films was lukewarm, he has included all the necessary commercial ingredients: comedy, action, a pretty female co-star (Hala Shiha) -- and songs. The film, about a man trying to win back his childhood love who was married off by her family to a gangster, is the debut of director Ahmed El-Badri and co-stars Ramez Galal and Khaled El-Sawi.
Star Academy singer Mohamed Attiya is launched as a lead actor in Dars Khousisi (Khousisi's Lesson) -- as a father who, in the early 1950s, is very strict with his children. When he kills a British occupation soldier by mistake, he is smuggled out of the country in a coffin, which ends up at the bottom of the sea inside a drowned ship and remains underwater until 2005. On his dramatically preposterous return, he finds his children much older (actors Hassan Hosni and Salah Abdallah). Scripted by Ahmed Abdel-Atty and directed by Sameh Abdel-Aziz, both in their first feature venture, the film co-stars actress Hana Shiha.
Comedian Maged El-Kidawani plays his first lead role in the comedy Gayy fil Sari'(Coming with Speed) -- written by Abdel-Fattah El-Biltagi and director Gamal Qassim's debut -- as a man who returns from a Gulf country to find a wife because his work gives more privileges to married employees.