BFI Southbank celebrates Egyptian filmmaker Youssef Chahine with major new month-long season

BFI Southbank has announced complete details of DRAMA AND DESIRE: THE FILMS OF YOUSSEF CHAHINE, a major new season celebrating the work of Egyptian master filmmaker Youssef Chahine.

Curated by Elhum Shakerifar, and presented in partnership with SAFAR Film Festival and the Ciné Lumière, the season will span his vast and eclectic career that often depicted the lives of ordinary Egyptians.

SAFAR Film Festival, the UK’s largest festival of Arab cinema, which runs from 29 June – 9 July, will include Chahine’s short film CAIRO AS SEEN BY CHAHINE (1993), screening alongside the UK premiere of FROM CAIRO (Hala Galal, 2021), while the Ciné Lumière will also screen a selection of Chahine’s work this summer. A number of the films will also be available to watch UK-wide on BFI Player.

Titles screening will include CAIRO STATION (1958), considered by many to be his masterpiece, his powerful ode to the earth, THE LAND (1969), THE BLAZING SUN (1954), which marked the screen debut of Omar Sharif, and hissemi-autobiographical Alexandria Trilogy of films ALEXANDRIA… WHY? (1978), AN EGYPTIAN STORY (1982) and ALEXANDRIA AGAIN AND FOREVER (1989).

The season will begin with an introductory event, THE YOUSSEF CHAHINE STORY, on 3 July. In this richly illustrated talk, season curator Elhum Shakerifar and special guests will explore Chahine’s thematic preoccupations and stylistic characteristics, as well as the political and historical background of his work, and the autobiographical elements that run through a career that spanned five decades.

Numerous screenings in the season will be introduced, with special guests including novelist Ahdaf Soueif, poet and essayist Momtaza Mehri and filmmaker May Abdalla, as well as the season curator Elhum Shakerifar.

A household name across the Arab world and feted internationally throughout his career, Chahine continues to appeal to his Egyptian audience (at Cairo Airport his portrait welcomes you to the city); this season offers audiences in the UK a chance to better acquaint themselves with the work of a true master of cinema.

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