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The Egyptian Provocateur: A Youssef Chahine Focus

MUBI Special

Youssef Chahine, one of the most celebrated auteurs in Arab cinema, made his first film while Egypt was still under British occupation, and his last just before the Arab Spring. Not only witnessing and observing his country’s tumultuous history with great concern, he also created his own unique and visually striking style. The films of this focus are characteristic of Chahine’s ardent and provocative spirit, taking a strident stance against the wrongdoings of the places of power. If films from Egypt today often deal with the political turmoil of their country, few do it as audaciously and with such cinematic prowess as Youssef Chahine’s progressive, celebratory and inventive works.

The Return of the Prodigal Son

Youssef Chahine Algeria, 1976

As part of our Youssef Chahine focus, we present one of his multi-layered films, deploying a panoply of complex characters and relationships. The observation of family dynamics in a domestic setting serves to obliquely pose a critical gaze on wider concerns––Egypt’s political and social context.

The Sparrow

Youssef Chahine Egypt, 1972

Banned by the Egyptian authorities for two years upon its release, The Sparrow is a virulent attack on corruption. Legendary director Youssef Chahine here exposes what he believed were the reasons for his country’s defeat in the Six-Day War, a turning point in the newly-born country’s history.

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