One way to link the public to the ruling regime is using visual arts in presenting political ideas and economic visions. If cinema makers with backgrounds in politics play a political role or contribute to promoting politicians, they will have a greater effect on the streets, which ultimately fall within politicians’ interest.
Several Egyptian TV channels and media outlets highlighted on Wednesday the “President and People” short film which featured an interview presented by cinema director Sandra Nashaat with President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi that aired on Tuesday. The one-hour interview came a few days before the presidential election scheduled for 26-28 March, in which Al-Sisi is expected to secure a second term.
Nashaat, known for her unique youth-oriented films, prepared a televised report showing Egyptians’ views about the president, some of which were critical, while others voiced support for Al-Sisi for another four-year term. Nashaat focused her camera on Al-Sisi’s impressions and reactions as he was watching the people’s direct messages and demands. As a professional filmmaker, Nashaat managed to deploy footage taken randomly from different areas—but carefully placed—to create a sense of intimacy, even in presenting opposing opinions.
This street report was not the first by Nashaat. Ahead of the 2014 constitutional referendum, she wanted to stimulate people to participate at the polls through a documentary called “Sharek” (Participate), which went viral on social media and contributed to increasing the voter turnout for the referendum.
In the 2014 presidential election, Nashaat repeated the experience through a film entitled “Helm” (Dream), which spoke about the Egyptians’ hopes and demands from their new president.
Nashaat’s films were characterised by a populist flavour, as she used various folk music and songs that expressed every region in Egypt, such as semsemia (a string instrument) music from the Suez Canal governorates and Nubian songs from Aswan and Luxor.
Nashaat relied in her reports on citizens at popular coffeeshops and social clubs, and others riding their cars or walking in the street, to get random answers and reactions to her reports.
The films focused on average citizens, whose ambitions were simply to have a decent living and live in peace and stability.
Nashaat has directed a number successful films, carving her name into the modern history of Egyptian cinema. She started her career with the short film “Akhir Sheta” (Last Winter), released in 1992. Her feature films, about seven, included Mabrouk and Bolbol (1996), “Leh Khaltni Ahbak” (1999), “Haramiah in KG2” (2001), “Malaki Alexandria” (2005), and “Masgoon Transit” (2008).