Hip-hop, scratching, tagging and the whole international youth art scene prove truly global in Ahmad Abdalla’s “Microphone,” a free and easy follow-up feature to his eye-catching debut, “Heliopolis.” This depiction of a returning exile discovering an underground artists’ movement in his native Alexandria is highly radical in the context of contempo Egyptian and Arabic cinema. Though the film is ultimately rather slight and slapdash, its cultural importance is undeniable, making it a desirable title for fest programmers if not buyers.
Having spent a few years in the States, Khaled (lead and co-producer Khaled Abol Naga) finds things are all shook up once he returns to bustling Alexandria. Even as his former g.f., Hadeer (Menna Shalabi), has given up on the place, Khaled stumbles upon a community of young musicians and artists working in multiple media, including a documentary crew that takes an interest in him. Khaled’s character remains undefined, reduced to a guy simply reacting to phenomena around him, but Abdalla’s visualized fascination with the city’s urban energy is a magnetic force despite the simplistic script.