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For the Egyptian Cinema
in the New Season

by Mohamed Karim

Mohamed Karim

The new season has arrived, carrying hope for those who work in the Egyptian cinema. They all wish that Egyptian films can match the great strides of the blessed renaissance that is shining on the new era in Egypt. The director, Mohamed Karim, who has been in the Egyptian cinema for almost 25 years – since it started until now – talks about these hopes and wishes.

I wish that history would not repeat itself. Producers should not imitate the other films presented on screen, as had happened during World War II and after that, when all the films went round and round the same circle of coarse comedy. This made Egyptian films lose the respectable reputation they had 20 years ago.

Most of our cinematographers are now concerned with producing films that deal with purges and with defaming the past era, as well as glorifying the new one. I would not hate for this to be the message of our cinema, but I would hate for all our films to deal with this issue, and for some to make cheap use of it, thereby countering its real meaning and boring the audience with a single theme that is being constantly repeated on screen.

The leaders of our blessed movement should not be lax about giving permits to all and sundry to use our armed forces in films about the duties of the army. First of all, it must be ascertained that the theme of the film is respectable, and that the producer has the necessary means, otherwise the film will end up being cheap propaganda for the army and its heroes. We would like our army to be glorified on the screen, but not for the glory to be exaggerated.

I wish that in the new season we will have new suitable stories related to humanistic, social and national issues.

There is a great scope for our writers, and there is ample financial reward, yet I find a sorry shortage in good stories. The great writers say they have no time to write for the cinema. That is why we put an advertisement in the papers asking for a story for Mr. Mohamed Abdel Wahab's new film, which cost more than 300 pounds. We received hundreds of topics, but sadly there was not among them a single one that would do. This is a shameful thing, and I started to think we do not have the culture of stories. The proof of this is that when the Ministry of Social Affairs organized a competition for writing stories, not one got first prize, and most of the stories we got were "borrowed" from foreign sources. We could have been spared all this suffering if our great writers had given us at least some suitable ideas, and we could have written the dialogue and scenario under their supervision.

I wish that we could pay more attention to “new faces”. We are very poor when it comes to our actors and actresses. For the past 15 years we have been using the same faces over and over. 15 years ago I was accused of introducing a new face to the screen, and if it was successful, I would soon replace it with another one. I used to do that in order to give other people a chance, while the ones I had already helped managed to make their own way to success. So I hope that producers would make this sacrifice of looking for new faces and of spending money to prepare them for the screen.

I wish that songs would not be the main feature in all our films. Musical films should be limited to well known singers in Egypt. Inserting songs in films does more harm than good, because the audience is beginning to appreciate the humanistic themes in films, and forcing unnecessary songs makes the themes lose their powe

I also hope that we could stop showing dances in our films. I am not saying we stop them forever, but for a while. We should have a “cease fire”, and if we feel that the audience misses them, we could bring them back.

I wish that advertisements could become less exaggerated. We don’t want to read about the magnificent so and so, or what a genius so and so is. We don’t want to hear about the Film of the Season, or Egypt’s Nnumber One Actress. These adjectives and epithets do more harm than good. That is why I want proper advertisements, based on experience, studies and a proper understanding of the psychology of the audience. I would like each director and actor to refuse that his name be associated with an adjective that is exaggerated.

I wish, and am very concerned, that in the new season our films should be premiered in respectable cinemas. The authorities should force all large cinemas to dedicate eight weeks in winter and the same in summer to Egyptian films. This way, everybody would appreciate the value of our films – or at least, the good ones will find their way to audiences in large cinemas.

I wish that the papers, especially the daily papers, would pay more attention to writing about the Egyptian cinema. I have noticed that, sadly, some papers are more interested in Hollywood than in the Egyptian cinema. Also, not much is written about the Egyptian films that are being shown. Some would say that there are too many films showing and that there is no space to write about them all. They are perfectly right, but they could choose the good ones to write about, and disregard the poor ones. Nobody who wants to do his work well can ignore criticism, for it points to the wrong that must be avoided in the future.

El Kawakeb. Issue 67. Special Issue. November 52.