In the beginning, there was Palestine. And in the beginning, there was Younes, known as Abu Salem, known as the Father of Ibrahim, who fought the English when he was 16 years old, and then carried on fighting, but from an entrenched position in Lebanon, or underground in his own country. In the beginning, there was also Nahila, his wife, who was married to him when she was 12 years old, and who breast-fed their first-born during the villagers’ long, exhausting marches to the north, after they fled their burned-down homes. Then Nahila met Younes again in Bab El Chams’ cave, in Galilee. He spoke to her of Saladin and Nasser; Nahila believed everything, all of Bab El Cham echoed with his heroic exploits, and after each nocturnal encounter a child was born, who Nahilia raised alone.
It is also the story of Younes’ father, Sheik Ibrahim, the old blind man, who knew the position of the sun by breathing in the trees along the route of exile.
It’s also the story of Dr. Khalil, abandoned by his mother in the mayhem of the refugee camps, and who looks after Younes in Beirut when the latter is in a coma, sitting at his bedside and telling him the tragic history of his people. It’s also the story of Chams, who Khalil loved and who was executed by his comrades in arms.
It is the story of the people of Palestine, shunted from teh camps of Galilee to the camps of Lebanon, fifty years of history, suffering, hope, and love. –uniFrance
Born 1952 in Cairo. After studying economics and political science, he went to live in Lebanon where he became a journalist. He began his career in film in 1980 as assistant to Volker Schlöndorff on Die Fälschung and to Youssef Chahine on Al-Dhakira and Adieu Bonaparte which he also co-wrote. In 1987, he directed his first film Summer Thefts, produced by Youssef Chahine and considered as one of the films that most contributed to the revival of Egyptian cinema. He carried on his collaboration with Chahine as co-director of Alexandria Again and Forever (1990) and Cairo as Seen by Chahine (1991). In 1994, he directed Marcides and, in 1995, the documentary On Boys, Girls and the Veil. In 1999, El Medina was awarded the Special Jury Prize in Locarno Film Festival. In 2004, his film The Gate of Sun (Bab El Chams), taken from Elias Khoury’s novel, was presented in the Cannes Official Selection (out of competition). —Cannes Film Festival