re: [Videolib] Arabic/Egyptian films-

John Sinno (
Wed, 3 Aug 2005 17:12:13 -0700

As a distributor of films from and about the Middle East & North Africa, I would like to point out that there are thousands of wonderful films from Arab/Muslim countries that provide vivid and truthful representations of what daily life is like for people living in that part of the world.

While it's true that government censors keep a close watch over film production in many Arab and Muslim countries, censorship rules are different in each country, so one must be careful not to generalize. Arab directors such as Yousef Chahine, Atef Hetata, Yousry Nasrallah, Nouri Bouzid and Nabil Ayouch (to name just a few) have found ways to subvert film production censorship rules to examine complex topics such as religion, sexuality, gender issues, poverty and government bureaucracy. Iranian filmmakers such as Abbas Kiarostami, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Tahmineh Milani and Mijid Mijidi have, in recent years, created some of the masterpieces of world cinema while filming under the restrictions enforced by their government.

Even when Arab filmmakers aren't challenging censorship rules, their films provide truthful representations of daily life in the Arab world. To suggest otherwise is like saying that, because of the restrictions set by the Hollywood Production Code (1934-1967), American films from the 1940s and '50s don't provide truthful representations of American life during that era.

Alex Williams
Arab Film Distribution

FROM: Gary Daniels <>
DATE: Wed, 03 Aug 2005 17:26:14 -0400

SUBJECT: Re: [Videolib] Arabic/Egyptian films-

As a filmmaker, I would like to point out the fact that all films shot
in the Middle East (and all Muslim countries, in fact) are subject to
heavy censorship and government approval. All scripts pass through a
government censor and government officials travel with the film crew and
monitor everything they do. The final edited video must also pass
through the government censors. Thus, if you show films from this
region, you should always remind your students that they are not
watching a completely truthful representation. They are only seeing what
the government of the country represented wants the world to see.

I wrote two research papers on this topic-- one covering censorship in
Egypt and another in Malaysia. You can read them at this link if you
want to know the reality of what you're showing your students:


Andrea Traubner wrote:

> Filmakers Library has a large collection of films on the Middle East.
> They are listed on our web site in the
> index under Middle East Studies. If there is a particular interest in
> films on Egypt, please look at UP AT DAWN (about child labor in Egypt)
> THE DIFFERENCES which is part of the Women in the Arab World series
> Sue Oscar
> Filmakers Library, Inc.
> 124 E. 40th Street
> Suite 901
> New York, NY 10016
> Phone:212-808-4980
> Fax:212-808-4983
> On Tuesday, August 2, 2005, at 01:27 PM, Mary Lou Neighbour wrote:
> Hello, all!
> I am writing to ask the collective wisdom of this list for
> titles of fairly current cinematic films from Arab countries
> which show daily life. We have a history professor who is
> interested in making them available to his students so that
> they can appreciate the cultures of the Middle East. He is
> particularly interested in films from Egypt. Any suggestions
> would be most welcome.
> Mary Lou Neighbour
> AV Librarian
> Montgomery County Community College
> 340 De Kalb Pike
> Blue Bell, PA 19422
> _______________________________________________
> Videolib mailing list

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