Night of Counting the Years to Raise Egyptian Nationalism at AUC

2pu0a36An opportunity to remind Egyptians that they also have films that are worthy of their appreciation was the showing of the movie Night of Counting the Years, on Tuesday, in the Malak Gabr Arts Theatre at the AUC New Cairo campus.

The film is a brilliant film produced in 1969, exactly 40 years ago, by the Egyptian Ministry of Culture. However, it was released in Egypt seven years later. Shadi Abd El Salam was the director and screenwriter of the film.

There have been many national and international activities to commemorate the movie, including Martin Scorsese’s institution’s project to create a new restored copy of the movie which was shown at a brilliant reception at the Cannes Film Festival this year.

According to Dr. Malek Khoury, director of the Film Department at AUC, “The film Is a brilliant film when it comes to its cinematography, it’s emphasis on the notion of identity, who are Egyptians, how to deal with the issue of whether pharonic culture is part of this culture or not, and how we can build on it as part of the continuity of Egyptian Culture.”

The movie mainly revolves around how during a certain period of time, particularly in the late 19th Century, Westerners were beginning to be interested in Egyptian artifacts and ancient Egyptian history. During that point many people were living off of their ownership of certain artifacts and their private generation to generation knowledge of where the mummies were, and where the major archeological areas were.

The plot of the movie revolves around a family which traditionally has always been in control of the artifacts of a specific site in Egypt, and how the authorities mainly some British archeologists, also became involved in knowing what is happening to those sites and how one member of the family becomes a traitor to his family and tells the authorities of what’s happening there.

This was Shadi Abd el Salam’s only major feature film. His exceptional interest in Egyptian history and the years of the pharos is very unique in Egyptian film history. A very good copy of the movie was provided to the film department by a very close friend of Shadi Abd el Salam.

“The story itself is an interesting story,” said Khoury, “but more interesting is how Shadi abd el Salam presents an image of Egypt during that period of time and an image of upper Egypt as well, which is a very poetic, dreamy-like image and in many ways complements this continuity that Egypt has experienced throughout its history, and culture.”

The movie being in classical Arabic adds to the dream-like effect of the film.

The aim of such an event, according to Khoury, is to be able to connect many people in Egypt who haven’t seen the film with an important milestone in Egyptian film history and to bring expatriates to close proximity to Egyptian cinema and to how much it offers in terms of intellect as well as cinematography.

“It’s not a coincidence that we’re praising a film that only recently has been recognized in the United States as a major world event,” Said Khoury. “This interaction between what AUC is doing as an American University and what it’s trying to achieve in terms of complimenting what’s happening in Egyptian popular culture is the reason why we’re showing this movie in particular.”

“Part of why I chose this movie in particular is that it’s a world recognized Egyptian film, and most Egyptians haven’t even seen it,” added Khoury.

“Our humble contribution in making more Egyptians aware of a very important milestone in Egyptian history, is to show them the film in a good copy,” said Khoury.

-By Nouran Khalil

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