Egyptian Film Critic Samir Farid, Ambassador of Arab Cinema, Dies at 73

He reviewed films out of Cairo for Variety between 1981 and 1985

ROME – The influential Egyptian film critic Samir Farid, who wrote dozens of books on Arab and world cinema and reviewed films for Variety out of Cairo during the 1980s, died Tuesday after a long battle with lung cancer. He was 73.

Born in the Egyptian capital, Farid studied at the Higher Institute of Dramatic Arts at the Academy of Arts in his hometown before starting his career as a film critic at Cairo’s state-owned newspaper Al-Gomhoreya, where he worked for 38 years.

Over time he gradually gained a reputation as an esteemed film expert that went beyond the Arab world, reviewing films out of Cairo for Variety between 1981 and 1985.

He was a regular for decades on the international fest circuit. The Berlin Film Festival in February honored him with a Berlinale Camera Award.

“With Samir Farid we have lost an important voice from the Arab world. His commitment and passion for cinema were unrivaled,” Berlinale director Dieter Kosslick said in a statement, adding: “With his death I have also lost an old friend.”

Farid became a leading light in Arab cinema as a fervent supporter of worthy young filmmakers. He launched three film magazines and was instrumental in setting up Egypt’s first film festivals, founding the National Festival of Short and Documentary Films in 1970, and starting the country’s National Festival of Feature Films in 1971. He formed two Egyptian film critics’ unions.

Among Farid’s more than 60 books is his essential primer “Introduction to Cinema in the Arab World,” recently published by the Dubai Film Festival.

Farid also served on the jury at several international film fests, including Venice, Thessaloniki, and most recently in Taormina in 2010. He was honored twice as a critic by the Cannes Film Festival. He had been a member of the FIPRESCI international critics’ union since 1971.

In 2013, Farid was feted by the Dubai fest with a Lifetime Achievement Award, in recognition of his longstanding passion for and support of Arab cinema.

In 2014, Farid was appointed artistic director of the Cairo Film Festival, the oldest film fest in the Middle East and Africa, which had fallen silent in the turmoil following the Arab Spring. Farid reconfigured the festival but resigned from the post in 2015, citing health reasons.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • 'Bombay Rose,' Venice Premiere, Debuts Trailer

    'Bombay Rose,' Venice Film Festival Premiere, Debuts Trailer (EXCLUSIVE)

    Variety has been given exclusive access to the trailer for animated film “Bombay Rose,” which will have its world premiere opening Venice Critics’ Week on Aug. 28. The film, written and directed by Gitanjali Rao, will also play in the Contemporary World Cinema strand at the Toronto Film Festival on Sept. 7. “Bombay Rose” is [...]

  • Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu speaks during a

    Alejandro G. Inarritu on the Need to Preserve Poetry in Cinema

    Alejandro G. Iñárritu is urging the film industry to guard against the influence of television storytelling in cinema, a looming crisis he said could strip film of the beauty and poetry that make it a unique artistic form of expression. Attending the Sarajevo Film Festival to receive the Honorary Heart of Sarajevo award, the Oscar-winning [...]

  • Levan Akin on the Impact of

    Levan Akin on the Impact of ‘And Then We Danced’

    Georgian-Swedish filmmaker Levan Akin is already enjoying success with “And Then We Danced,” his acclaimed social drama about a young dancer struggling with the confines of tradition and forbidden love. The film, which premiered in Directors’ Fortnight in Cannes, went on to win three top awards at the Odessa Film Festival, including best film and [...]

  • Brian Oliver'Black Mass' Premiere, Toronto International

    'Rocketman' Producer Developing Comedy 'Inward Bound' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Brian Oliver’s New Republic Pictures, the company that co-financed and produced “Rocketman,” is developing a female ensemble comedy “Inward Bound.” The announcement comes on the heels of Universal’s “Good Boys” becoming the first R-rated comedy to open in first place at the North American box office  in three years, as well as the biggest opening [...]

  • Heroic Losers

    Watch Clip from Ricardo Darin’s Toronto-Bound ‘Heroic Losers’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    Variety has been given access to an exclusive clip and poster from Toronto Special Presentation “La Odisea de los Giles” (“Heroic Losers”) which, starring Ricardo Darín, has just scored in is native Argentina a standout opening weekend of Peso 58.8 million ($1.1 million) and 316,300 admissions for Warner Bros. Pictures. With “Heroic Losers” having released [...]

  • "The Hunt"

    'The Hunt' Director Breaks Silence on Film's Cancellation (EXCLUSIVE)

    Craig Zobel, director of “The Hunt,” hopes that the controversial political thriller will eventually be seen by audiences, and argues that its message has been misrepresented in media reports. Zobel spoke for the first time since Universal canceled the film’s release on Aug. 10, in the wake of a series of mass shootings and amid [...]

  • Mark Damon, CEO & Chairman, Foresight

    Mark Damon's DCR Finance Receives $150 Million for Financing Georgia Films (EXCLUSIVE)

    Mark Damon’s DCR Finance Corp., co-headed with financer Adi Cohen, has received a $150 million investment from Go Media Productions for Georgia projects, Variety has learned exclusively. Damon, whose credits include “2 Guns” and “Lone Survivor,” made the announcement Monday with Cohen. The deal calls for Atlanta-based Go Media Productions to join a private placement as [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content