Review: ‘Visit of the President’

Spirited ensemble playing and local color galore make "Visit of the President" an engaging, ultimately bittersweet account of a small Egyptian village's frantic preparations for a whistle-stop visit from the U.S. president. The comic and tragic implications of U.S. aid are explored with a light touch, making this a good candidate for social studies and history classes after it travels the fest route.

Spirited ensemble playing and local color galore make “Visit of the President” an engaging, ultimately bittersweet account of a small Egyptian village’s frantic preparations for a whistle-stop visit from the U.S. president. The comic and tragic implications of U.S. aid are explored with a light touch, making this a good candidate for social studies and history classes after it travels the fest route.

In El-Dahryia in the Nile delta, local council president Allalah (Mahmoud Abdel Aziz) has reason to believe that the Egyptian and U.S. presidents will pause in his humble village en route from Cairo to Alexandria by train. When the council decides that only pregnant women will be eligible to receive food aid, frenzied mating results. (Rumor has it that an American device can determine if a woman is pregnant the very night she has sex.)

Hammy but entertaining array of loquacious characters, including the local doctor, his zaftig assistant, thebarber and the mayor, bicker and scheme as the great day approaches. Village beautification — in which, for example, a modest food stand becomes a “supermarket”– builds to fever pitch.

Photography and editing possess verve. Jaunty musical interludes feel tacked on.

Visit of the President

(EGYPTIAN)

Production

A Rady Keler release. (International sales: Mounir Rady, Cairo.) Produced by Rady Keler, Maher Rady. Directed by Mounir Rady. Screenplay, Bechir Eldik, Ahmed Metwaly. Camera (color), Maher Rady; editor, Ahmed Metwaly; music, Ragueh Daoud; art direction, Salah Marei. Reviewed at Montpellier Festival of Mediterranean Cinema , France, Oct. 26, 1994. Running time: 115 MIN.

With

With: Mahmoud Abdel Aziz, Nagah El-Mogui, Ahmed Rateb, Hayatem, Gihane Nasr, Hassan Al-Asmar, Youssef Daoud.
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