The classics section of the Cannes Film Festival will screen the masterpiece of Egyptian director Youssef Chahine, El-Massir, next month.
Chahine is well-known worldwide, and in 1997 was awarded the Cannes Film Festival’s 50th anniversary Lifetime Achievement Award. El-Massir will be screened at the Cinéma de la Plage (Movies on the Beach).
Chahine made his directorial debut at age 24 with “Baba Amin” (Father Amin) in 1950.The cultural changes instigated by the 1952 revolution allowed Chahine to break away from mainstream cinema. His international breakthrough came in 1958 with “Bab El-Hadid” (Cairo Station).
Widely regarded as one of the greatest accomplishments in Egyptian film history, the gritty social drama chronicles the psychological breakdown of an alienated, impoverished, and sexually repressed newspaper vendor. Bab El-Hadid was one of the first local films to explore the struggle of Egyptian individualism against society and the contradictory relationship that governs their interactions.
In 1963, Chahine released Saladin, a historical epic about religious tolerance and Arab unity. The film was also a subtle declaration of Chahine’s commitment to and support for Gamal Abdel Nasser and the 1952 revolution. Chahine continued to explore those themes in his next two films, “Fagr Yom Gedid” (Dawn of a New Day, 1964) and “Al Nass wal Nil” (People and the Nile, 1968).
Directing over 40 films and documentaries in his lifetime, Chahine left behind a staggering body of work and a legacy that continues to inspire the development of Egyptian cinema and culture.
For over 50 years, Chahine fearlessly captured the gruelling realities of Egyptian society in his work, addressing highly controversial sociocultural issues concerning sexual repression, individualism, religious tolerance, and political corruption.