In the blasting heat of a Friday afternoon in Cairo, a group of people representing the whole of Egyptian society – among them a movie star, a thief, a madman, a cook and a pregnant woman – find themselves trapped in an elevator for 12 hours. Working brilliantly within its limitations of time and place, Salah Abu Seif’s Between Heaven and Earth, from a story written for the screen by Naguib Mahfouz, is a triumph of modern cinema. –Abu Dhabi Film Festival
The story of Egyptian cinema and Abu Seif started in his youth: working as an employee in a textile factory, he accidentally met the young director Niyazi Mustafa. Mustaph had just then returned from Germany, having completed a study in cinema at the expense of Studio Misr[Egypt’s Studio]. The encounter strengthened Abu Seif’s interest in and love of cinema; he therefore approached Niazi Mustapha and convinced the filmmake to hire the young Abu Seif as assistant director. That was the beginning of a journey that continued into the 1990s, originating as a collaborative effort between himself, Mustapha and Kamal Salim in the film Al Azima [Determination], which laid the foundation for realism in Egyptian cinema.
That experience opened opportunities for Abu Seif to direct short documentaries while waiting for the chance to direct his own feature film. But he had to wait six more years before he completed the half dozen films that set him on the road toward the school with whose… read more