It is not that common to encounter films from Egypt in the U.S. and only a handful have managed to enjoy theatrical distribution here in either film festival or art house screenings over the years. Youssef Chahine from Alexandria, Egypt is probably the best known director with more than 40 feature films to his credit including The Blazing Sun (1954) featuring Omar Sharif in his film debut and Bab el Hadid (Cairo Station, 1958), which brought him international attention. Other than Chahine, you might recognize Moshi Mizrahi although his best-known films were made in other countries; The House on Chelouche Street (1973), an Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Language Film was made in Israel, and Madame Rosa (1977) and I Sent a Letter to My Love (1980), both starring Simone Signoret, were filmed in France. A more contemporary Egyptian director is Atom Egoyan, although he was raised in Western Canada where most of his movies have been made including Exotica (1994) and The Sweet Hereafter (1997).
Many film historians and critics, however, often list Chadi Abdel Salam as one of the greatest Egyptian directors of all time on the basis of his solo feature film from 1969, Al-mummia (The Mummy aka The Night of Counting the Years), which has slowly acquired the status of a classic in its own country and around the world, thanks to the efforts of Martin Scorsese and The Film Foundation, which restored the film in 2009 in association with the Cineteca di Bologna and the Egyptian Film Center.Continue reading