ROME – Egyptian director Chadi Abdel Salem’s 1969 dreamlike drama “The Mummy,” recently restored by Italy’s Cineteca di Bologna with support from Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Foundation, tops the list of 100 Greatest Arab Films compiled by the Dubai International Film Festival, in a book based on input from hundreds of experts being touted as the first project of this type in the Arab world.
Films from Egypt feature prominently, with two Youssef Chahine-directed classics, “Cairo Station” and “The Land,” ranked at number two and number four respectively, and helmer Daoud Abdel Sayed’s more recent drama “Kit Kat” (1991) about a very observant blind man, weighing in at number eight. Egyptian director Tewfik Saleh’s 1973 “The Dupes,” which is about the Palestinian predicament and was produced by Syria’s National Film Organization, came in at number ten.
North Africa is further represented by Algerian helmer Mohammed Lakhdar-Hamina’s 1975 pic “Chronicle of the Years of Fire,” which portrays the Algerian struggle for independence, and came in in third place. And also by Tunisian director Moufida Tlatli’s “The Silences of the Palace,” which came in at number five and is considered the first feature film ever directed by a woman in the Arab world.
Syrian auteur Mohamed Malas’ partly autobiographical 1983 coming-of-age pic “Dreams of the City” took sixth place. Palestinian helmer Elia Suleiman’s surreal comedy “Divine Intervention,” about Palestinians under Israeli occupation, made the number seven slot. While Lebanese helmer Ziad Doueri’s 1998 debut “West Beirut,” a coming-of-age pic set in Beirut amid the early stages of Lebanon’s civil war, ranks number nine.
The top 100 list is the central part of a book on Arab Cinema titled “Cinema of Passion,” compiled with input from more than 400 prominent Arab and international film critics, writers, novelists, academics, and other arts professionals.
DIFF Chairman Abdulhamid Juma praised the project as the perfect way to celebrate the fest’s upcoming tenth edition.
“Since the festival’s inception, our core mandate has been to celebrate, promote and nurture Arab cinema,” Juma said in a statement.
“The book adds an important dimension of preserving and analyzing the region’s film treasures,” he added.
“Cinema of Passion,” which is edited by Emirati film critic Ziad Abdullah, also comprises wide-ranging analysis of the list and historical data, information on the productions, and background on the key creatives that made the films possible.
The 10th edition of the Dubai fest will run December 6-14.