Egypt Rising

Another Night On Earth directed by David Munoz (Spain) 1012, is a collection of documentary snapshots showing both Cairo taxi drivers and their passengers over what appears to be a brief span of time.

All but one of the mature, long-employed drivers are male. The brief trips recorded are mostly at night as the vehicles move or are stuck in traffic. The exchanges recorded by the hidden camera gives viewers a taste of the densely populated city.

A skeptical young director, Namir Abdel Messeeh, sets out to make a documentary about Our Lady of Zeitoun, a heavenly apparition reported to have taken place in 1968 Cairo. His mother is a believer supportive of the project despite an earlier flop but she’s adamant about him not including her family in the movie.

The Virgin, The Copts, And Me, (France, Qatar) 2012 is a fun-filled adventure that exposes not only the difficulties and triumph of independent film production but also shows glimpses of life among an immigrant family settled in Europe in contrast to some of those left behind in North Africa.

Words Of Witness, directed by Mai Iskander (USA, Egypt) 2012 deals directly with the recent uprising in Egypt. It follows a young journalist working for an English-language newspaper as she covers the ongoing demonstrations in Tarir Square

Heba Afify was encouraged by her father to be independent while growing up but her mother is still fearful each time Heba leaves the house to pursue her career.

All three of these fine documentaries set in Egypt are part of the 16th Annual Arab Film Festival continuing this week in Berkeley and Los Angeles.

copyright © 2012 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved

Freedom Calls

Automobiles transformed the world over the last century. The US the auto industry headquartered in Detroit provided good-paying jobs for workers of all races. It was an important component of the new suburban lifestyle that developed after WWII. Cars became a potent symbol of power and freedom, primarily for young men, but the benefits eventually reached women as well.

Black gold made a few lucky people rich in states such as Texas and Oklahoma where oil rigs pumped it from the ground. Though, predictably, most of the wealth was concentrated in the hands of a few at the very top of the economic pyramid.

As US fuel supplies dwindled, the search for new sources of petroleum widened to encompass rich deposits in Mexico and Venezuela, the Middle East, and North Africa with corresponding economic and political consequences.

Mobil telephones are one of the technological wonders of the present century. They promise to connect people long-isolated with others in a worldwide network. Too often separating their users from those nearest to them. Looking at other passengers in the subway, I see many of them staring at their smart phones or furiously tapping out messages.

Man Without A Cell Phone, directed by Sameh Zoabi (Palestine, Israel, Belgium, France, Qatar) 2011, captures the restless spirit of the young craving romance and freedom. Jawdat uses his cell phone to make dates with Muslim, Christian, and Jewish girls. His father, Salem, considers the cell phone tower at the edge of his land a health risk for the entire community.

The story is set in the home village of the director, who now lives in Brooklyn. Its inhabitants, Arab Israelis, are Palestinians living within Israel. This delightful comedy provides a fresh look at everyday life in the Middle East. Very much in touch with the times. The perfect opening film for the 16rh Annual Arab Film Festival!

copyright © 2012 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved