An inevitably uneven response to the 2011 Egyptian revolution by a collective of 10 rising and established filmmakers
Portmanteau pic “18 Days” is an instant response to the 2011 Egyptian revolution by a collective of 10 rising and established filmmakers. Certain to be superseded by more considered works in the coming years, it retains value thanks to several strong entries tied together in an inevitably uneven package. Useful both as a showcase for the region’s emerging talent and as a raw reaction to recent political events, the shorts are standalone works linked by the 18-day revolution. Cannes inclusion created a buzz that should pay off for fests and ancillary.
With media attention still strong on Egyptian events, and given the slowly growing visibility of Arab helmers on the fest circuit, “18 Days” is a handy calling card, though industry viewers should be careful not to judge the talent purely based on shorts conceived and produced at an emotional highpoint in just a couple of months. The participants worked gratis, and all proceeds will go to funding social outreach in Egyptian villages.
Things kick off with the weakest entry, vet helmer Sherif Arafa’s “Retention.” Playing like a provincial agitprop stage piece, the short brings together a diverse group of men in a mental institution just before and during the revolution. Far better is “God’s Creation” from Kamla Abou Zekry (“One-Zero”), which follows a religious young woman (Nahed El Sebai) from the slums who finds herself drawn in by the street protests. The helmer never quite manages to smoothly integrate poor-quality amateur news footage with the action, but the story is strong and the handheld lensing has an appropriately urgent feel.
A tech guy (Amr Waked) is arrested and tortured by out-of-touch interrogators just before the street protests begin in “19-19,” directed by Marwan Hamed (“The Yacoubian Building”). Mohamed Ali’s “When the Flood Rises” works in a more jocular vein, as a couple of opportunists become accidental supporters of the revolution. Shorts helmer Sherif Bendary confirms his promise with “Curfew,” in which a chatty grandfather (Ahmed Fouad Selim) in Suez gets stuck between roadblocks as he tries to get his grandson home from the hospital.
Khaled Marei’s “Revolution Cookies” features comic thesp Ahmed Helmy (also scripting) as a tailor unaware of the brewing unrest who thinks Cairo is under Israeli invasion and locks himself into his shop for the full 18 days. Star Hend Sabry plays a pregnant slum-dweller whose husband (Asser Yasin) is hired as one of Mubarak’s thugs in the ambitious “#tahrir 2/2,” from young-helmer-to-watch Mariam Abou Ouf.
Ahmad Abdallah (“Microphone”) chooses a lyrical style for one of the compendium’s strongest entries, “Window,” a beautifully contained story about a young man (Ahmed El Fishawy) who barely leaves his tiny apartment, watching the revolution unfold via Facebook and the Internet. “Interior/Exterior,” from noted director Yousry Nasrallah, casts Mona Zakki as a woman discovering her political voice through the encouragement of a friend (Yousra), and despite the fears of her husband (Yasin). Final entry is Ahmed Alaa’s “Ashraf Seberto,” in which a barber (Mohamed Farrag) turns his shop into a first aide station for wounded protestors.
Issues touched on throughout the pic include poverty, corruption and the sense of pride, unity and hope that’s become one of the most thrilling outcomes of the revolution. Visuals run the gamut from shaky naturalistic handheld to more rigorously controlled and theatrical lensing; many of the shorts will probably looking best on smallscreens. Sound is generally problem-free.
Retention Produced by Amin El Masry. Directed, written by Sherif Arafa. Camera (color, DV), Ayman Abou El Makarem; editor, Hassan El Touny; music, Omar Khairat; sound, Empire. Running time: 14 MIN. With: Hamza El Eily, Mahmoud Samir, Hesham Mansour, Ahmed Shouman, Mohamed Abou El Wafa, Mohamed Tharwat, Nader Fransees.
God's Creation Produced by Ehab El Koury. Directed by Kamla Abou Zekry. Screenplay, Belal Fadl. Camera (color, DV), Youssef Labib; editor, Mona Rabie; music, Mohamed Abozekry, Heejaz; costume designer, Reem El Adl; sound, Gomaa Abdel Latif. Running time: 8 MIN. With: Nahed El Sebai, Salwa Mohamed Ali, Mohamed Termes, Suzette Swanson, Ahmed Dawood.
19-19 Produced by Fadi Fahim. Directed by Marwan Hamed. Screenplay, Abbas Abou El Hassan. Camera (color, DV), Ahmed El Morsy; editor, Ahmed Hafez; production designer, Bassel Hossam; sound, Frequency Studios, Mohamed Hassib, Hosny Aly. Running time: 14 MIN. With: Bassem Samra, Amr Waked, Omar El Saeed, Eyad Nassar.
When the Flood Rises Produced by Fadi Fahim. Directed by Mohamed Ali. Screenplay, Belal Fadl. Camera (color, DV), Ahmed Mostafa; editor, Dalia El Nasser; sound, Gomaa Abdel Latif. Running time: 9 MIN. With: Maher Selim, Raouf Mostafa, Ahmed Habashy, Maher Essam.
Curfew Produced by Ehab El Koury. Directed by Sherif Bendary. Screenplay, Bendary, Atef Nashed. Camera (color, DV), Victor Credi; editor, Mona Rabie; music, Ibrahim Shamel; sound, Tamer El Demerdash. Running time: 15 MIN. With: Ahmed Fouad Selim, Ali Rozeiq, Ramadan Khater, Mohamed Hatem, Hani Taher, Morad Fekry, Karim Abu El Fath, Amro Hassan.
Revolution Cookies Produced by Fadi Fahim. Directed, edited by Khaled Marei. Screenplay, Ahmed Helmy. Camera (color, DV), Ahmed Youssef; production designer, Basel Hossam; costume designer, Mai Galal; sound, Mohamed Fawzy. Running time: 13 MIN. With: Ahmed Helmy, Eid Abu El Hamd, Hani El Sabagh.
#tahrir 2/2 Produced, edited by Salma Osman. Directed, written by Mariam Abou Ouf. Camera (color, DV), Islam Abdel Samie; music, Hany Adel; production designer, Sherif Mostafa; costume designer, Nahed Nasrallah; sound, Gomaa Abdel Latif. Running time: 13 MIN. With: Mohamed Farrag, Hend Sabry, Asser Yasin, Mohamed Mamdouh.
Window Produced by Mohamed Hefzy. Directed, written by Ahmad Abdallah. Camera (color, DV), Tarek Hefny; editor, Hisham Saqr; music, Amir Khalaf; production designer, Nihal Farouk; sound, Ahmed Gaber. Running time: 13 MIN. With: Ahmed El Fishawy, Yasmine Shash, Omar El Zoheiry, Hisham Hussein.
Interior/Exterior Produced, directed by Yousry Nasrallah. Screenplay, Tamer Habib; Nasrallah. Camera (color, DV), Victor Credi, Nasrallah; editor, Mona Rabie; costume designer, Nahed Nasrallah; sound, Ibrahim El-Dessouki, Ahmed Gaber. Running time: 11 MIN. With: Mona Zakki, Yousra, Asser Yasin, Am Abdo.
Ashraf Seberto Produced by Fadi Fahim. Directed by Ahmed Alaa. Screenplay, Nasser Abd El Rahman. Camera (color, DV), Ahmed El Morsy; editor, Ahmed Hafez; music, Wael Badrawy; production designer, Basel Hossam; costume designer, Inas Abdallah; sound, Frequency Studios, Mohamed Hassib, Hosny Aly. Running time: 12 MIN. With: Mohamed Farrag, Mohamed Ashraf, Emy Samir Ghanem, Mohamed Tolba.