Egyptian Cinema

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Date: 1914, 1936, 1972

Region: Africa

Subject: Political/Economic/Social Opinion

Medium: Film Video


Artist: Egyptian filmmakers

Confronting Bodies: Egyptian ruling States

Dates of Action: 1914, 1936, 1972-73

Location: Egypt

Description of Artwork: Oghnlya ala-l-mamar by Ali Abd el-Khaleq: after 1972. Alexandria by Chahine: 1926.

al-Asfour ("The Sparrow") by Chahine, (1973): Banned until 1975. Political film about teachings of the Egyptians, on what they were doing in 1967 after they lost the Seven Day War, and especially after the June 9th Nassar resignation. Chahine comments on the role of history as witness.

The Incident: Censorship has always plagued Egyptian intellectual life. Film has been considered more dangerous than literature since it can affect the larger masses in a country where most people do not read or write. Officially institutionalized by the Palace and the British Embassy in 1914, it is a part of the Ministry of the Interior.

1914: The censorship bureau demanded from all filmmakers that they in no way, shape or form, criticize foreigners, civil servants and religion. It is forbidden to show the lifestyle of farmers, workers, or to express any opinions on nationalistic or neutral political views favorable towards socialism. No one is to criticize the past or present monarchy.

1936: The reactionary government of Sidki Pacha transfers the department of censorship to the office of criminology. After the Revolution, the aims of censorship are changed and filmmakers are no longer allowed to make any positive references to the aristocracy. Therefore it promotes socialist subjects showing the good of the new regime.

1972-73: The new pro-western and mostly pro-American approach of the Sadat regime imprisoned a number of filmmakers and banned their films.

Results of Incident: As a result it is still impossible today for an Egyptian filmmaker to show union movements of farmers, workers, or students.

Source: "Regard sure le Cinema Egyptien" by Yves Thoraval, Edition Darel-Machreg.