RE: [Videolib] Arabic/Egyptian films-

Milos Stehlik (
Wed, 3 Aug 2005 20:04:08 -0500

I would like to echo Alex's statements. Censorship or no censorship, by far
the best representations of Middle East and North Africa come from the
filmmakers of those countries. Yes, Youssef Chahine has battled with
Egyptian censorship (as Gary Daniels points out in his paper) all of his
life and most recently with The Emigrant -- nevertheless, one of the very
best films about fundamentalism is his film THE DESTINY - equally applicable
to fundamentalism in any form.

These are often brave films made by courageous filmmakers battling against
great odds and should be supported by us always. Try Merzak ALlouache's
Bab-el-Oued City or the work of so many Middle Eastern and North African
women filmmakers - Tahmineh Milani, Moufida Tlatli, Rakshan Bani-Etemad.

One might even argue that the censorship restrictions and the difficulty of
getting their films approved (but censorship is everywhere, including here
in the USA, with economic censorship as potent as political) has led to the
development of bold new ways of storytelling and film language, helping us
see with new eyes.

Milos Stehlik
Facets Multi-Media, Inc.
1517 West Fullerton Avenue
Chicago, IL 60614 USA
Voice: 1-773-281-9075
FAX: 1-773-929-5437

-----Original Message-----
[] On Behalf Of John Sinno
Sent: Wednesday, August 03, 2005 7:12 PM
To: Gary Daniels;
Subject: re: [Videolib] Arabic/Egyptian films-

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

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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