Brief introduction to Egyptian cinema

This article is also available in: Italiano

We needed a little break before bringing you Egyptian cinema, the most flourishing in the Middle East and the 3rd in the world after Hollywood and Bollywood. An introduction to the likes of Omar Sharif and Hind Rostom, the Marilyn Monroe of the East

Arab cinema

The birth of cinema in the Middle East, particularly in Egypt, is almost contemporary with that of France. In fact, as early as 1897, the Lumière brothers’ operators filmed the town and in the same year the first cinema hall was opened. Cairo and Alexandria immediately became very fertile ground for this industry, thanks also to the great cosmopolitanism of these 2 cities. They were able to immediately attract artists and producers from all over the Mediterranean, including Italy.

egyptian cinema
Hind Rostom, the Marilyn Monroe of the East

Thanks to the Italian photographer Umberto Dorès, in fact, the SITCIA (Italian Cinema Society of Alexandria) was born which in a very short time produced several films, including Sharaf al Badawi (“The honor of the Bedouin“) in 1918 in which he made his debut. future director Muhammad Karim. Thanks to its always central role in the Arab world, Egypt quickly managed to establish itself as the “Hollywood of the East”, becoming an absolute reference point in the years to come.

The Golden Age

From the 1940s to the 1960s, the country experienced its most prosperous cinematographic era ever. The cultural production was of an incredible level in every field, prompting many artists to collaborate even for fields other than their own. Trivially one could mention characters such as Nagib Mahfuz, who was also a great screenwriter, or Umm Kulthum, who was also an incredible actress.

Egyptian cinema
A young Omar Sharif

These are also the years of actresses such as Hind Rostom, the Marilyn Monroe of the East and the debut of Omar Sharif, probably the most famous star of Egyptian cinema. In addition to them, however, we should also mention incredibly talented directors such as Shadi Abdel Salam, author of Al Mummia, or Youssef Chahine who will make their debut at that time.

Post Nasser

With the death of Nasser in 1970, the entire Egyptian cultural industry suffers a slow but constant stagnation which naturally affects cinema as well. In fact, the number of films will increase from the hundred annually in the early years to about a dozen in 1995. Not that more films are not produced in this period of time, however, the creative vein of past years begins to stop, favoring the affirmation of models precise and increasingly regular.

Egyptian cinema
A scene from Al Mummia

However, starting from the 1990s there is a cultural and cinematographic revival to be recorded which, probably, sees in “The Yacoubian Building” in ‘Ala al Aswani, one of the greatest successes ever.

In the future, prepare the popcorn, the charm of Egyptian cinema has infected us and we can’t wait to bring you some films, so that you can touch this ancient beauty firsthand. The first to come out will be Shadi Abdel Salam’s “Al Mummia”, considered one of the best Egyptian films ever.

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