Sunday, August 5, 2007
Youssef Chahine (1926-)
I make my films first for myself. Then for my family. Then for Alexandria. Then for Egypt. And if the Arab world likes them, ahlan wa sahlan [welcome]. And if the foreign audience likes them--they are doubly welcome.
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Youssef Chahine (born January 25, 1926) is an Egyptian film director. He sstarted studying in a friars' school, then turned to English College until earning his High School Certificate. After one year in the University of Alexandria he moved to the U.S. and spent two years at the Pasadena Play House taking courses on film and dramatic arts. After coming back to Egypt, cinematographer Alvise Orfanelli helped him into the film business. His film debut was Baba Amin (1950): one year later, with Ibn el Nil (1951) he was first invited to the Cannes Film festival. In 1970 he was awarded a Golden Tanit at the Carthage Festival. With Le moineau (1973) he directed the first Egypt-Algeria coproduction. He won a Silver Bear in Berlin for Iskanderija... lih (1978), the first installment in what will prove to be an autobiographic trilogy, completed with Hadduta misrija (1982) and Iskanderija, kaman oue kaman (1990). In 1992 Jacques Lassalle proposed that he stage a piece of his choice for Comedie Francaise: Chahine chose to adapt Albert Camus' "Caligola," which proved hugely successful. The same year he started writing Mohager, al- (1994), a story inspired by the Biblical character of Joseph, son of Jacob. This had long been a dream-project and he finally got to shoot it in 1994. In 1997, 46 years and 5 invitations later, he won Cannes' 50th Anniversary Palme D'Or with Massir, al- (1997).
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