World Bulletin / News Desk
Ask a Cairo resident to describe the most frustrating thing about living in the Egyptian capital, and they will likely tell you about the noise, the chaotic streets, and the proselytizing taxi drivers.
However, for director Tamer El Said, it is precisely these everyday gripes that form a central part of his new film In The Last Days of the City – a proud requiem to the bustling metropolis that also reflects on how the 2011 revolution has changed Cairo’s urban fabric.
Set in the lead up to the Arab Spring and filmed in the busy downtown area, In the Last Days of the City tells the story of a director, Khalid, as he struggles to capture the city that he loves on film, distracted by the pressing need to find himself a new place to live.
The film blends set scenes and documentary-style footage of real people playing themselves, blurring the boundaries between reality and fiction. “I told my crew that we wanted to film the soul of the city, not its image – I didn’t want to make a series of postcards for tourists,” said Said.
But now, due to a de facto ban on the film across Egypt, no Cairo resident will be able to see it. Like many of the city’s public spaces in the aftermath of the revolution, when millions of Egyptians took to the streets calling for the downfall of president Hosni Mubarak, the film has fallen victim to a new government crackdown on civil liberties.
As a result of the weeks of mass protest in of Tahrir Square and cities across Egypt, Mubarak resigned. But two tumultuous years later, Abdel-Fatah al-Sisi seized power in a popularly backed military coup. Cairo, once the beating heart of the uprising against quickly became tightly patrolled into obedience, and as a result, the downtown streets portrayed with such emotion in Said’s film are now under heavier surveillance than ever before.
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