In the Last Days of a City
[Akher ayam el madina], dir. Tamer El Said, Egypt/Germany/UK/United Arab Emirates 2016, 118'
You said: «I'll go to another country, go to another shore, find another city better than this one. Whatever I try to do is fated to turn out wrong and my heart lies buried as though it were something dead,» wrote Alexandrian poet, Constantine P.Cavafy. Khalid, a 35-year-old director, is working on a film that is supposed to capture the spirit of his home town of Cairo, as the old order crumbles under foot. A eulogy-like feeling accompanies his thoughts about the city and a premonition of the end permeates all he does. Khalid has to leave his downtown flat, his dear ones are slowly departing, and a longing for an unfulfilled love keeps him awake at night. While his film editor laments, the director discusses the scars a city can inflict and reviews his recordings to find an element that might bring together the images, memories and impressionistic episodes. Similar doubts must have accompanied Tamer El Said, whose 2007 debut distilled 250 hours of material into a two-hour mosaic-like image of Cairo before the revolution, a city under a layer of sand-colored dust, filled with movement and clamor like a sea, a city that is at once rebellious and traditional. This city will always pursue you.
Agnieszka Szeffel [T-mobile New Horizons]