Joseph Fahim

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Latest by Joseph Fahim


‘Chicken with Plums’ wins best film at Abu Dhabi Film Fest, with nods to Egypt

French film “Chicken with Plums” was the big winner at the fifth edition of the Abu Dhabi Film Festival, scooping the Best Narrative Film prize and a monetary award of $100,000 at the closing ceremony held on Friday evening. Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud’s follow-up to 2007 animation blockbuster “Persepolis” is a whimsical love story …

Joseph Fahim

Egyptian screen legend, seductress Hind Rostom dies at 82

  CAIRO: At the peak of her career in the mid-50s and 60s, Egyptian screen goddess Hind Rostom was the biggest film star in Egypt and the most desired woman in the Arab World.   Her savage European beauty, unbridled confidence and defiant spirit set her apart. A versatile, charismatic performer, Rostom was the poster …

Joseph Fahim

Summer 2011: The great escape

The following week marks the official end of the strangest and shortest summer season in Egypt in recent history. The first post-Jan. 25 film season was bound to suffer from a sharp decline in revenues, lower attendance and absence of box-office magnets that have sustained Egypt’s status as the largest film market in the region …

Joseph Fahim

The murky realms of post-revolution showbiz

Midway through what unfolded into the Jan. 25 Revolution, numerous observers, university professors and experts attempted to write a sketched narrative of the uprising, drawing comparison to other revolutions near and far and deducing predictions while overlooking the specificities and uniqueness of the Egyptian condition. Time proved most predictions wrong. No one was able to …

Joseph Fahim

Arabic movies flounder in Abu Dhabi

Over the past few years, the Gulf Film Festivals — Dubai, Abu Dhabi and now Doha Tribeca — have rapidly become the optimum showcase for Arab films. With all three contributing a substantial chunk of money to support Arab filmmakers through their various funds and grant programs, the Gulf has provided a much-needed source of …

Joseph Fahim

‘Miral’ disappoints, ‘Chico and Rita’ delights at ADFF

A lack of excitement was the guiding sentiment most critics shared when the awards for the 2010 Abu Dhabi Film Festival were announced Saturday evening. The success of last year’s edition under new executive director Peter Scarlett established Abu Dhabi as a force to be reckoned with in the region and raised the bar for …

Joseph Fahim

Russian film wins top prize at Abu Dhabi Film Festival

Aleksei Fedorchenko’s beguiling second feature “Silent Souls” from Russia won the Abu Dhabi Film Festival’s Golden Pearl award for best narrative film and a monetary prize of $100,000, concluding the 10-day activities of an edition marred by a so-so film selection and plenty of organizational missteps. A hypnotic reverie on life, death and fading cultures, …

Joseph Fahim

Blazing Canadian ‘fires’ extinguished by frosty Russian ‘souls’ in Abu Dhabi

The early days of the sixth Abu Dhabi Film Festival have been hampered by several glitches: schedule overlapping, delayed screenings and disproportionate attendance (a bizarre, ongoing trend). The quality of the films on offer has been mixed, ranging from the sublime (Aleksei Fedorchenko’s “Silent Souls”) to the unwatchable (Vibeke Løkkeberg’s “Tears of Gaza”). Nothing truly …

Joseph Fahim

Sixth Abu Dhabi Film Fest kicks off

With little fanfare, the sixth Abu Dhabi Film Fest (formerly known as the Middle East International Film Festival) kicked off Thursday evening, commencing a 10-day program chockfull of films, seminars, lectures, industry meetings and several other activities.   The fest, which concludes on Oct. 23, inaugurates the Arab film fest season which continues with Carthage …

Joseph Fahim

On the path to greatness: A one-on-one interview with Croatian film star Zrinka Cvitesic

One of the few highlights of the Berlin Film Festival’s disappointing 2010 line-up was Jasmila Zbanic’s sophomore film, “On the Path”: A brilliantly audacious tale of the disintegrating relationship between Luna (Zrinka Cvitesic), a liberal-minded air-stewardess, and her partner Amar (Leon Lucev), a war veteran gradually drawn to conservative Wahhabism after getting fired from his …

Joseph Fahim

The Group: Band of outsiders

No other recent TV drama has courted the mammoth controversy that met Wahid Hamed’s “Al-Gama’a” (The Group). An in-depth historical chronicle of the founding of the Muslim Brotherhood, “Al-Gama’a” was instantly accused of tarnishing the history of Egypt’s biggest opposition group, and for good reason. For nearly 30 years, Hamed, one of the nation’s most …

Joseph Fahim

THE REEL ESTATE: Me and Mr Tati

My viewing patterns of Jacques Tati — France’s greatest comedy filmmaker — have been tightly structured over the past decade. “Jour de fête” and the early shorts are a fitting introduction for the unacquainted; “Mon oncle” is a sprightly attraction for low-key parties; “Playtime” is for the close, trusted friends: a sharp, smart picture that …

Joseph Fahim

THE REEL ESTATE: It felt like a ‘Blur’

Summer 2010 may forever be remembered for the puzzling revival of everything 80s: from TV adaptations (“The A-Team”) and remakes (“The Karate Kid”) to the mechanical disco-flavored rhythms of Lady Gaga. Countless articles by the likes of New York Times’ A.O. Scott and British writer Toby Litt reminisced about the innocence and the unrealized dreams …

Joseph Fahim

THE REEL ESTATE: The dwindling summer season and the plunging film market

The chimes of doom erupted in every Egyptian film studio earlier this year in anticipation of what several film industrials heralded to be the breaking point of Egyptian cinema’s recent exhaustive malaise. Long thought to have ended, the global economic crisis appears to have finally taken its toll on Egyptian cinema thanks to shaky Arab …

Joseph Fahim

THE REEL ESTATE: What dreams may come

  Regular readers of this column will know that I’m an admirer of British filmmaker Christopher Nolan. Before he became Hollywood’s wonder kid with the “Batman” reboot, I was taken aback by the dexterity, originality and mysteriousness of Nolan’s first feature, “Following,” one of the best noir films of the past 25 years.   Each …

Joseph Fahim

THE REEL ESTATE: A botched game with the ‘Big Guys’

I  was briefly acquainted with veteran scriptwriter Bachir El-Dik nine years ago during my first internship. Working as a production assistant on the first Egyptian animated feature (which, alas, never materialize), I got the chance to spend long hours with Mr. El-Dik during the brainstorming sessions, closely observing his craft and listening to countless anecdotes …

Joseph Fahim

THE REEL ESTATE: The last Egyptian action hero

Amid all the doom, gloom and insufferable direness that defined last summer’s film crop, Ahmed Mekki, Egyptian cinema’s hottest young comedy star, emerged almost out of nowhere to deliver a knockout with “Teer Enta” (Fly Now): the funniest, zaniest comedy of 2009. An original take on Stanley Donen’s 1967 comedy classic “Bedazzled,” “Teer Enta” was …

Joseph Fahim

THE REEL ESTATE: Tears of Egyptian maidens

At one point while I was growing up, our household turned into the arranged marriages headquarters; a neutral point where potential couples could meet, under the supervision of a guardian, who happened to be my mother. During this period, which lasted for several years, I met dozens of potential brides-to-be, most of whom where above …

Joseph Fahim

THE REEL ESTATE: Toys, memories and the end of the story

“Toy Story,” Pixar’s first full-length feature, came out in Egypt as I was celebrating my 13th birthday. Back then, I was pretty much a fanboy, savoring the latest actioners from the likes of Bruce Willis and Schwarzenegger and embracing everything that had Spielberg’s name on it. George Lucas was god and Hollywood was my haven. …

Joseph Fahim

THE REEL ESTATE: Arms, drugs and Egyptian mediocrity

One of the highlights of my week has been “Le premier jour du reste de ta vie” (The First Day of the Rest of Your Life), a little French family drama that left me entranced. Rémi Bezançon’s 2008 production is not your average art-house curiosity title; this is an unabashedly sentimental story crafted with the …

Joseph Fahim

The sour taste of Helmy’s "Black Honey"

Picture this: An Egyptian immigrant to the US returns home for the first time in 20 years. Naively believing that his Egyptian stature atomically grants him certain basic rights and privileges, the man embarks on an accidental odyssey where he comes face to face with every social anomaly plaguing this country. Intriguing huh? That’s what …

Joseph Fahim

THE REEL ESTATE: Fangs of corruption fall in toothless 'Such Days'

A large cloud of skepticism and anxiety ominously loom over this year’s summer cinema season, the shortest in more than a decade. With only seven films scheduled for release over the next two months, the remarkably diminutive 2010 slate offers little of the fanfare that have made summer the most lucrative season of the cinematic …

Joseph Fahim

The city at the far end of the world: Part 2

Three weeks ago, I was invited by a South-African NGO called the Arterial Network on a “sponsored cultural tour [for African journalists] to the Harare International Festival of the Arts (Hifa).” During my five-day stay at the Zimbabwean capital, several truths about both the Arterial Network and the hosting country began to unfold, divulging a …

Joseph Fahim

THE REEL ESTATE: Music, colors and bittersweet memories of Cherbourg

In one of those semi-comical, philosophically-fueled drunken sessions I remember, the unavoidable question of death, a recurring topic of these discussions, popped up. And for some peculiar and not-so-morbid reason, we laid down our thoughts about how our funerals would be like. The choice of burial varied considerably. One expressed his wish to be buried …

Joseph Fahim

The Reel Estate: The kid, the picture and the neighborhood

It was supposed to be the biggest, most important evening of his life. Last November’s premiere of the highly touted Egyptian film “Heliopolis” was anything but ordinary. The chaos, scuffles and flying insults couldn’t obscure the fact that the star-studded indie was the most attended film of last year’s ill-fated Cairo International Film Festival. For …

Joseph Fahim

Godard, Iñárritu, Kiarostami lead Cannes line-up

New films by some of art cinema’s most feted filmmakers lead the 63rd Cannes Film Festival’s line-up, festival chief Thierry Fremaux revealed on Thursday. Sixty-four features will be screened in the various sections of the fest which runs from May 12-23. Leading this year’s competition is Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu’s “Biutiful starring Javier Bardem. …

Joseph Fahim

THE REEL ESTATE: The mysterious blonde and her Chinese fan

An older friend of mine once said that great Portuguese filmmaker Manoel de Oliveira is like a fine wine: He gets better with age. His films, the epitome of art-house cinema, are often long, slow-paced, contemplative, iconistic in composition and pedantic, and have equally captivated and frustrated critics and his small fan following alike. For …

Joseph Fahim

THE REEL ESTATE: An open letter to Egyptian film-goers

Dear Egyptian audience, For the past four years, I’ve been unremittingly singing your praises in these pages, asserting that you have finally come of age. For the past four years, I’ve witnessed the seeds of a real artistic renaissance growing into a vibrant, rich culture. Your choices have become smarter; your active participation has radically …

Joseph Fahim

'Green Zone' misses the target

Amid the minor backlash that greeted “The Hurt Locker’s” Oscar in Egypt and some parts of the Arab world, a number of voices criticized Kathryn Bigelow’s combat drama — and American war films in general — for never examining the reasons that took the US to Iraq in the first place. In “Green Zone,” British …

Joseph Fahim

THE REEL ESTATE: 'Green Zone' misses the target

Amid the minor backlash that greeted “The Hurt Locker’s Oscar in Egypt and some parts of the Arab world, a number of voices criticized Kathryn Bigelow’s combat drama – and American war films in general – for never examining the reasons that took the US to Iraq in the first place. In “Green Zone, British …

Joseph Fahim