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Hopeful of a free Egyptian cinema

Staff Reporter
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Acknowledging that his country has been rocked by political turbulence, noted Egyptian critic Samir Farid is still hopeful that independent cinema will survive and flourish in Egypt in the years to come.

Mr. Farid, who was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 12th edition of Osian’s-Cinefan Film Festival here this past weekend, describes it as a great honour from a great country.

“Next year I will attain the age of 70. So in a way the celebration has already begun. I have watched three dozen films by prolific Indian film-makers but am guilty of not watching more on DVDs. I have watched all films of Mrinal Sen, Mani Kaul and Shyam Benegal,” he says.

Sharing his fondness for Indian cinema, Mr. Farid says he had the privilege of meeting the great Bengali film-maker Satyajit Ray whose films made in his mother-tongue touched people’s lives across the country and even abroad.

“I have had the fortune of meeting Satyajit Ray in Tunisia in the 1980s. His films inspired me and I watched all his movies,” he recalls.

Pointing out that Egypt was in danger at the hands of Islamic fanatics, Mr. Farid says it would not be easy to destroy Egyptian culture. “They do not understand our ancient culture.

I do not know what will happen in future but I am optimistic. In Egypt there is a new ruler. So we will have to wait and understand the new dispensation’s policy towards creative activities like film-making.”

Describing himself as a passionate cinema lover, Mr. Farid says film criticism is an expression of this. “Two kinds of cinema exist. One is Persian cinema and the other is popular cinema. I have respect for both.”

Born in Cairo, Farid started his career as film critic of a daily “Al-Gomhoreya” in Cairo in 1965. Since then he has emerged as one of the most prolific and significant film critics in the Arab world.

He has attended over a hundred film festivals and seminars in the US, Africa, Asia and Europe.

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