As part of the continent wide initiative by the Luxor African Film Festival and Misr Films, Independence Avenue Films (Windhoek, Namibia) is commemorating and engraving the name of pioneer African filmmaker Youssef Chahine in the collective memory of our people.
On Saturday, 25 January 2020, Independence Avenue Films is featuring films by Youssef Chahine, screened in partnership with the Namibia Arts Association Trust and Turipamwe Design. With these screenings we celebrate the birthday of the internationally renowned African Egyptian director Youssef Chahine, 25 January 1926.
The screenings include The Land (Egypt, 1969), considered a film classic of socialist realism, and Chaos (Egypt, 2007), Chahine’s last film, predicting the Arab Spring, and the documentary film “Hamlet from Alexandria”, directed by Mona Ghandour, a documentary about Chahine’s childhood and his relationship with the character Hamlet.
Screenings of Chahine’s films are held across Africa from 24th until the 26th of January 2020, including all governates in Egypt and in ~ 30 African countries such as Sudan, Rwanda, Uganda, Ethiopia, Tunisia, Namibia and Libya.
The following are the details for the Windhoek screening:
When: 25 January, 4pm: The Land, 7pm: Chaos & Hamlet of Alexandria
Discussions will follow the screening of each film.
Venue: Namibia Arts Association Trust, 10-14 Macadam St, opp Obeco, near Ausspannplatz, Windhoek. Entrance: Free. Donations welcome. Snacks and drinks available. Hibbiscus juice will be served. Event link: https://www.facebook.com/events/543561933169035/
The Namibian screenings are organised by Independence Avenue Films in collaboration with Luxor African Film Festival, Misr Films, the Namibia Arts Association Trust and Turipamwe Design.
About the films:
The Land, Egypt, 1969, 134 min
One of Chahine’s most enduring classics, The Land details the struggle of a group of peasant farmers in the 1930s to protect their fields and their livelihood against a landlord interested only in self-aggrandizement. Adapted by Chahine from a novel published shortly after the abolition of the monarchy by Egypt’s 1952 revolution, The Land offers a full-blooded narrative of a time when feudal structures still existed in Egypt. As part of socialist realism cinema, the film portrays political struggle, collective responses to oppression, mixed with sweeping nationalist emotions. The Land is widely interpreted as a rallying cry for an Arab world demoralized by Israeli expansion in the late 1960s.
Chaos, Egypt, 2007, 124 min & Hamlet of Alexandria, Egypt, 27 min
Chahine co-directed his last film with Khaled Youssef, who had also worked on some of the screenplays of earlier works. The film is set largely in Cairo’s Shoubra district, once known for people of different religions living in peaceful coexistence, but now rife with social and political tensions. It is run by a corrupt police officer who is hated by all the locals. Only the woman with whom he is in love resists him. With visionary clarity, Chahine and Youseff develop a panorama of a people’s outbreak of anger in a violent police state, which seems to anticipate the revolution of 2011. Chahine’s conclusion of a unique directorial career is evidence that he was an incorrigible advocate of humanity.
About Youssef Chahine:
Youssef Chahine is widely considered the leading pioneer of film-making in Egypt and the Middle East. With a distinctive brand of cinema and a truth-seeking lens, Youssef Chahine has time and time again focused on intricate topics seldom discussed before in Egyptian cinema and never presented with such honesty.
Since 1950, when he released his first film, and until his very last movie, Chahine’s lens has mirrored the upheavals in Egyptian society, from the British occupation, to the post-monarchical rule under Nasser, to the rise of political Islamism and the ever-changing relation between the Arab and Western worlds. At their core, his movies sought to connect with the world at large. On the 25th of January of 1926, Chahine was born to a lawyer father of Lebanese descent and a Greek mother in Alexandria, a city that represented an ideal of fusions of creeds and cultures, and embraced amalgams between different ideologies and art movements, giving it its own unique character and a place at the forefront of theatre and film arts.
As a son of this open maritime city, Chahine learnt early on about the rest of the world. This gave him a unique platform to penetrate the international film festivals circuit and quickly establish himself, amongst western critics, as one of the greatest film makers in the world. He made musicals, comedies, adventure movies and melodramas before combining the traditions and temperament of Egyptian cinema with the latest achievements of contemporary European cinema in BAB AL-HADID (Cairo Station, 1958) with its neorealist style.
Chahine quickly rose to star status and became the preferred director for large-scale (historical) productions but his vision of the cinema was too personal and uncompromising for him to be instrumentalized for a long time. After difficulties with the censors and a period of exile in Lebanon, at the beginning of the 1970s, he founded his own production company Misr International, with which he was able to undertake increasingly political and daring projects.
Chahine was no stranger to controversy until the very end, and this was mostly felt in his altercations with censorship, critics, and authorities. His contribution to the industry continues through the numerous directors and film technicians who have graduated from his school of film making.
For decades, Youssef Chahine remained at the forefront of the industry and this was due to his reliance on new faces and new blood that reinvigorated his artistry every time, leading up to his final work (Chaos 2007).
At the 50th anniversary of the Cannes Film Festival Chahine was awarded a prize for his lifetime achievement.