Cartoonish violence and lack of modulation destroy “Demons of Cairo,” Ahmed Atef’s feature film work-up of his short docu on Egyptian street kids. A project that carried high expectations, the over-ambitious narrative — a compendium of reality-based stories of life on the garbage heaps — tries to cover too many characters, while over-the-top gore is too obviously meant to shock. Still, well-meaning fests looking to call attention to the plight of street urchins may come calling on the subject’s merits alone.
Glue-sniffing runaways and abandoned moppets struggle to negotiate the terrors of capricious gangs and sadistic cops in Cairo’s slums. Pregnant pot peddler Gamila (Reham Abdel Ghafour) acts as den mother, but her wicked temper results in the vicious slashing of prostitute Bershama (Hanan Motawie). When former kingpin Turbine (Bassem Samra) gets released from jail, turf warfare ensues; meanwhile, Ramadan (Ahmed Abdel-Qawi, a real former street kid and pic’s best actor) tries to free his family from an abusive father. Hope is predictably, and accurately, short-lived, though viewers wanting real texture should rent Tahani Rached’s docu, “These Girls.” Pic is also known as “The Jungle,” a literal translation of the Arabic title.