Alexandria… New York (2004)
Considered to be one of the most important international film directors, he is also one of the most eclectic, having directed everything from musicals to melodramas, autobiography to comedy, and neo-realist to political films. His movies pushed the traditional boundaries of Arab cinema
Alexandria Why?, his most autobiographical film, innovated the use of first-person narrative, while other films, such as Cairo Station, explored issues of sexuality and madness for the first time. His more political films, such as The Return of the Prodigal Son (an adaptation of André Gide’s novel), explored the social politics of the Arab-Israel War, while films such as Once upon a Time on the Nile concentrated a strong critical eye on the construction of the Aswan High Dam.
His work has been included in international projects featuring famous directors, such as the Lumière Brother’s anniversary compilation of shorts, as well as shorts about 11 September 2001. In 1997, he won the prestigious Cannes Film Festival’s highest honor, the Palme d’Or, for his film Destiny.
AUG 30 – 20.00 hrs
TIM 21 – STUDIO 1, KINEFORUM – DKJ, Jl. Cikini Raya 73, JakartaProgram supported and endorsed by the Embassy of Egypt, Jakarta and The Ministry of Culture Arab Republic of Egypt.
Born :Gabriel Youssef Chahine
January 25, 1926,Alexandria, Egypt
Died, July 27, 2008 (aged 82), Cairo, Egypt
Youssef Chahine was an Egyptian film director active in the Egyptian film industry since 1950. He was credited with launching the career of actor Omar Sharif.
Chahine was born into a Christian Egyptian family, a Greek mother and a father of Lebanese descent in Alexandria, Egypt, on January 25, 1926. Chahine began his education at a frères’ school and continued his studies at the Victoria College. After one year at Alexandria University, he moved to the United States to study acting at the Pasadena Playhouse.
After returning to Egypt, he turned his attention to directing. Cinematographer Alvise Orfanelli helped Chahine into the film business. His film debut was Baba Amin (1950): one year later, with Nile Boy (1951) he was first invited to the Cannes Film Festival. In 1970 he was awarded a Golden Tanit at the Carthage Film Festival. With The Sparrow (1973), in which he showed his political opinions after the Six Day War with Israel, he directed the first Egypt-Algeria co-production. He won a Silver Bear in Berlin for Alexandria…Why? (1978), the first installment in what would prove to be an autobiographic quartet, completed with An Egyptian Story (1982), Alexandria, Again and Again (1990), and Alexandria…New York (2004). The producer Humbert Balsan went to Cannes in 2004 with Alexandria… New York (2004), his ninth film with the Egyptian director since 1985’s Adieu, Bonaparte. In one of his films The Sixth Day, an adaptation of a novel written in French by Lebanese writer André Chedid, the famous Egyptian singer Dalida was the protagonist in the role of a poor Egyptian woman.
Chahine also acted in a few of his films.
In 1992 Jacques Lassalle approached him to stage a piece of his choice for Comédie-Française: Chahine chose to adapt Albert Camus‘ Caligula, which proved hugely successful. The same year he started writing The Emigrant (1994), a story inspired by the Biblical character of Joseph, son of Jacob. This had long been a dream-project and he finally got to shoot it in 1994. This film created a controversy in Egypt between the enlightened wing and the fundamentalists who opposed the depiction of religious characters in films. In 1997, 46 years and 5 invitations later, his work was acknowledged at the Cannes Film Festival with a lifetime achievement award on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the festival. He is also credited with discovering Omar Sharif, whose first starring role was in Chahine’s film The Blazing Sun (1954). He also provided Hend Rustum with a very early role as a murder victim in Bab al-Hadid (Cairo Station).
Controversies. The Sparrow attacks Egyptian corruption and blamed it for the defeat in the Six Day War.
Cairo Station, albeit a classic of Egyptian cinema, also shocked viewers both by the sympathy with which a “fallen woman” is depicted and by the violence with which she’s killed.
Chahine was hospitalized at El Shorouq hospital in Cairo in a coma following an apparent cerebral haemorrhage, on Sunday, June 15, 2008. On Monday, June 16, 2008, Chahine was flown to Paris on an emergency flight and admitted to the American Hospital in Neuilly-sur-Seine, west of Paris, where his niece told AFP his condition was “critical but stable.” Youssef Chahine died in his Cairo home on Sunday July 27, 2008.