For a link between the golden era of the Egyptian film biz in the 1950s and its current resurgence, you need look no further than Omar Sharif.
The 77-year-old thesp, who remains the Arab world’s most recognizable celluloid face more than 50 years after his bigscreen debut, is becoming something of a mentor for young helmers in the country.
Having first been discovered by legendary Egyptian helmer Youssef Chahine and appearing in Chahine’s 1954 film “The Blazing Sun” before going on to score his big international break in 1962 with “Lawrence of Arabia,” Sharif has recently returned to work in Egypt.
In 2008, he starred opposite Egyptian box office draw Adel Imam in “Hassan and Morcoss,” a satirical comedy about religious intolerance between Egypt’s Muslims and Christians. Pic was helmer Rami Imam’s feature debut, and thus Sharif’s participation was a testament to the actor’s desire to spur on the next generation of Egyptian filmmakers.
Sharif recently wrapped “The Traveler” for another debut helmer, Ahmed Maher. The pic, which was funded by the Egyptian Ministry of Culture, is about an aging Egyptian reminiscing on his life spent abroad.
“Now that I’m an old man, I’m trying to make films that have something to say,” says Sharif.