Trailer Tuesday - Hawi by Ibrahim El Batout

This week's Trailer Tuesday is dedicated to Egypt. If you are still not sure of the reasons behind the protests which started on 25th January, Ibrahim El Batout's films might help you understand why.

Ibrahim El Batout has been receiving critical acclaim over the past few years for his films that have toured several film festivals. I was first exposed to his work two years ago at the Dubai International Film Festival when I watched Eye of the Sun. A tender film that reflects on life in Cairo and the society's hardship, it's so heartbreaking and turned me into a big fan of El Batout.

His latest film, Hawi is about Youssef, a prisoner released after five years of solitary confinement to find some important documents which leads to several subplots that includes a group of aspiring songwriters, a satellite TV executive searching for a show host and an elderly juggler leading his sick old horse though the city streets. El Batout continues to look at the daily life of Egyptians through this film showing the struggles of everyday people. It premiered at the Doha Tribeca Film Festival last October and won Best Arab Film.

In the director's note for Hawi, Ibrahim El Batout says the following, which really sums up the situation in Egypt:

Distinctive features of “Hawi” include shooting without a script, the use ofnon-professionalactors, and location shooting attitude, the avoidance of ornamental mise-en-scene but with aesthetic use of framing and composition, a preference for natural light, a freely-moving style of photography that relies on my confidence in holding a shot as much as needed because I don't like to cut or move the camera unless it is motivated, and non interventionist approach to film directing and an avoidance of complex editing.

All of these features satisfy my desire to get closer to everyday reality; subject matter, the lives of the so called ordinary people; and ideology; the hope of political renewal in Egypt, which goes along with the loss of hope coinciding with the failure of the renewal. Each of these features built on the preceding one, culminating my goal of conveying the hope of renewal both in filmmaking and also in life. (You can read the full post here.)