Of Arab Spring and Satyajit Ray

President of Egyptian film council,Samir Farid,talks about the influence of Muslim radicalism on Arab cinema

Written by EXPRESS FEATURES SERVICE | Published: July 30, 2012 7:35:52 am

He is an authority on Egyptian and Arab cinema. Author of over 60 books and the winner of Golden Medallion of Cannes and State Prize in Arts,Cairo-based noted film critic Samir Farid was conferred with another honour on Friday,when he received the lifetime achievement award at the opening ceremony of the 12th Osian’s-Cinefan film festival. He speaks to SHANTANU DAVID about Indian and Arab cinema

What is your opinion of Indian cinema?

The way I see it is,Indian cinema is divided into two categories — movies that bring out human values,emotions and realistic cinema by legends such as Satyajit Ray and Bimal Roy; and other films that are commercial and entertaining,brought out by the new breed of directors. The second is what I see more often now. Honestly,I am a lover of realistic cinema and I have had the opportunity to watch movies of Ray. .

What is the current scenario of the Egyptian Arabic film industry?

The future of Egyptian Arabic films is bright,considering that in the last decade,for the first time,films have been produced in all Arab countries,not just a few popular areas such as Syria,Lebanon,Egypt and Tunisia. Almost 10-15 countries in Arab produce films toda,that range from short films to features,commercial and artistic films. Most of this development is due to digital cinema that has helped realise the dreams of many aspiring directors. Camera today acts as a pen that helps new directors to write and conceptualise films,especially when you consider that until 10 years ago,no films were produced in the area. In my view,the Egyptian Arabic film industry has a very positive future. The current scenario also looks encouraging,thanks to various laws and measures implemented to encourage investment in the creation of cinema.

What sort of impact has the Arab Spring had on Egyptian cinema?

Until two years ago Arab cinema was at its peak. Now,a lot of Muslim radicalism has taken over the country. There are people who feel cinema is taboo. However,as I mentioned earlier,I see a change in the attitude of youth and their willingness to adapt to new cultures and influences.

What do you think of Osian’s as an international film event?

I believe this is a great platform to encourage world cinema,especially from countries in the Middle-East and Asia. Cinefan has given the new breed of directors a chance to showcase their vision and cinematic thought process in front of audiences that are way more mature.

Do you think there is a changing regard for Indian cinema internationally?

I believe that Indian cinema world over was always appreciated. Arab countries,especially,have grown up watching Indian movies. The new breed of directors that now form a part of Indian cinema are bolder and take up topics that have universal appeal. Thus,I think Indian cinema does have a bigger recall,now,internationally.

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