De Kracht van Cultuur

Egypt started showing projections in cafés as early as the beginning of 1896. In the twenties the first feature films come out; they were romantic movies and were intended for the middle class living in the cities.

The first movie with a completely Egyptian movie crew was Leila by Orfi Bengo, from 1927. Since that time Egypt has had its own important movie industry, which has become by far the most important in the Arab world.

In the thirties, talking movies were invented. The white Rose by Mohamed Karim from 1932 is one of the first and also represents the beginning of a beloved Egyptian genre of that time, the musical comedy. Many male and female singers, specifically Oum Khaltoum, owe their fame to their roles in these movies. In 1935, Studio Misr was constructed, which grew to become one of Egypt’s largest production companies.
In the forties, realism emerged, with Determination by Kamal Selim. Movies expressed social criticism and told stories about ordinary people. Scenarios were written by important writers, such as Naguib Mahfouz, who was later awarded the Nobel prize for literature for his realistic novels.

The end of the monarchy, in 1952, strengthened realism even further. The Egyptian cinema of that time was patriotic, and historically and socially motivated. The forties and fifties are called the Golden Age of the movies. At that time Omar Sharif and his wife Faten Hamama were particularly popular.
The end of the sixties, beginning of the seventies was a bad period for Egyptian movies. This was due to the Six-Day War and the transition of movies from a state enterprise to private production. Many commercial movies were produced starting at that time and more and more American movies were imported.
In the eighties, a 'nouvelle vogue' can be seen. Important movie makers from that period are Mohamed Khan and Atef el-Tayeb.
At the start of the nineties four filmmakers become well known; these filmmakers are now are known as "the group of four": Atef Hetata, Asma Al-Bakri, Youssri Nasrallah, and Radwane Al-Kachef.

Youssef Chahine is the best known filmmaker outside Egypt at this moment. He has been making movies since the fifties, in various genres, but generally he makes realistic movies full of social criticism.