Renowned Egyptian director Youssef Chahine established his international reputation with Cairo Station after it screened at the Berlin Film Festival. Focusing on a group of marginalised luggage carriers and soft-drink sellers who live in abandoned traincars, Chahine posits Cairo’s main railroad station as a microcosm of Egyptian society. A crippled newspaper dealer (played powerfully by Chahine himself), falls in love with a beautiful but indifferent lemonade seller who is engaged to the muscular and virile leader of the luggage-carriers. Swept away by his obsessive desire, the crippled man kidnaps the object of his passion, with terrible consequences.
Set during the 1967 Six Day War between Israel and the United Arab Republic this story of familial and national divisions has become one of Chahine’s most popular films in festivals and retrospectives. A young policeman’s adoptive father occupies a high post in the force, while his biological father is reputed to have been a left-wing activist. Raouf begins to search for those who might have known his real father, while his half-brother, stationed on the Sinai front, prepares for battle.
The Sandwich explores the daily life and work of children in Abnoud, a rural village located 600 kilometres to the south of Cairo, where the trains that carry the tourists to the south of Egypt pass through without stopping. A boy outsmarts the meagerness of his circumstances by dripping goat’s milk on a piece of stale bread and turning it into a special sandwich.
A poor peasant woman becomes a symbol of worker oppression in this somber social drama directed by Henry Barakat. Azziza is brutally raped by a guard when she goes into the fields to gather potatoes for her husband. She does not relate the incident to her husband who is suffering from an undisclosed illness. Azziza hides the pregnancy and strangles the baby after it is born, but she also dies soon thereafter. The migrant workers rally around her memory as she becomes a martyr to the cause of the struggling peasants.
After the death of her husband, Lilia’s life revolves solely around her teenage daughter, Salma. Whilst looking for Salma late one night, Lilia stumbles upon a belly dance cabaret and though initially reserved and taken aback by the culture of the place, Lilia gets consistently drawn back to it. She befriends one of the belly dancers and is encouraged into dancing for the audience. Lilia also starts a romance with one of the cabaret’s musicians, who unbeknown to both of them, is also romancing Salma.
Drama about Malak, a rich and famous singing star who, when her husband leaves her, takes up with the younger, handsome Lamei. What Malak can’t see – but her family can – is that Lamei is only after her money.
Shot in the summer of 1980, this film from longtime directorial partners Straub and Huillet investigates the changing relationship between people, the land, and society in France and Egypt.