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Podcast featuring discussions and interviews about the cultural happenings in the United Arab Emirates presented by Hind Mezaina (The Culturist) and Wael Hattar.


Entries in Cairo Station (3)


Film Screening: Bab el Hadid (Cairo Station)


NYU Abu Dhabi will be screening Youssef Chahine's classic Bab el Hadid (Cairo Station) on Saturday, 7th April at 7pm. This screening is part of series called Journeys in Film History, a collaboration with the Abu Dhabi Film Festival. It's a free screening, but you need to RSVP here.

I cannot recommend this enough, so if you've not watched this film before, a fan of cinema and live in Abu Dhabi, please don't miss this. I wrote a short piece about this film last year, you can read it here.  


Highly controversial for its bleak depiction of Egyptian society, Youssef Chahine's Cairo Station marked the director's movement to more socially conscious stories about the urban poor and dispossessed.

Chahine plays the cripple Kenaoui and is joined by Egyptian cinema stars Hind Rustum and Farid Chaouqi, performing as people who live in and around a train station but are never afforded the luxury of travel. 

Cairo Station highlights ways that Chahine's films are cosmopolitan while maintaining a strong sense of Egyptian identity.





Event details
Date: Saturday, 7th April 7pm-9pm
Venue: NYUAD Downtown Campus, Abu Dhabi (location map
Free screening, but you need to RSVP here


RIP Hind Rostom 

Found out earlier this week that that legendary Egyptian actress Hind Rostom passed away. She was known as the Marilyn Monroe of Egyptian cinema. She acted in more than 70 films. I've only seen a few where she danced, she seduced - her on screen character was always fiesty.


In a book about the sex symbols in the American cinema, Brigitte Bardot was chosen from the European cinema, and Hind Rustom from the Arab cinema, for inclusion in the chapter on non-American actresses. Abdel Ghani Daoud claims that “Hollywood critics at that time extolled her accomplishments and natural gifts which, according to them, allowed her to rival the best actresses of the age”.

Read this touching piece, Egyptian screen legend, seductress Hind Rostom dies at 82 by film critic Joseph Fahim that captures her career.


RIP Hind Rostom, 1931-2011. 


A scene from Rod Qalby (Return My Heart), 1957

A scene from Cairo Station, 1958


Scene from Sera'a Fil Nile (Struggle in the Nile), 1959


For the Love of Film (Noir) - Cairo Station

[This post is part of the For the Love of Film (Noir) Blogathon, hosted by The Self-Styled Siren and Ferdy on Films. The blogathon, running from 14th-21st February aims to to raise funds for the  Film Noir Foundation who do important work to restore and preserve the noir heritage. The donations will be used to restore The Sound of Fury (aka Try and Get Me), directed by Cy Endfield. Please donate here.]

Cairo Station* by Youssef Chahine from 1958 is one of the first Arab films to adapt techniques of Italian neo-realism and American film noir. A suspense thriller set in a Cairo train station; it’s a departure from the sweet natured films of the 1950s. The film addresses the themes of sexual repression, revenge, murder.

Cairo Station follows three main characters, Abu Serib (Farid Shawqi), a hard working porter trying to form a union to fight corruption and bring equal rights to his fellow workers; his fiancée Hanuma (Hind Rostom), the femme fatale of the film who flirts her way to sell lemonade to train passengers, which takes away from the earnings of the station’s official drink vendor; and Kenawi (played by Chahine himself) a crippled newspaper vendor who is obsessed with Hanuma.

The frantic pace in the station reflects the pace of life in Cairo along with all the characters that walk through the station. You see the workers, the bourgeoisie, the religious and the free spirited. The station tells a story of a city, but it also tells a story through the eyes of the very disturbed Kenawi - who appears harmless but is really the dark soul in this film. 

Kenawi's creepy stares at women, his collection of pin-up models in his shed makes you realise he is disturbed, you can see his sexual repression and sense it will lead to something dangerous. The film is set in one day and scene-by-scene, you can feel the tension growing leading to chaos, violence and kidnapping – all with dire consequences.

Watching this movie again after such a long time made me realize that its storyline and characters are timeless and the film is relevant today as it was over 50 years ago. The film was nominated for a Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival in 1958. It was banned for 20 years, but since 1978 it has been recognized as an Egyptian classic and a masterpiece.



A scene from the film


* The Arabic title for this film is باب الحديد (Bab El Hadid), which literally means Iron Gate.
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