Portraying a Sharm El-Sheikh way past its prime, this documentary follows the young Egyptian staff of a resort in the once crowded seaside destination.
Egyptian-German documentary Dream Away, by Marouan Omara and co-director Johanna Domke, which looks into Sharm El-Sheikh post its glory days, is coming to the Cairo International Film Festival after having toured some of the world’s top festivals.
The documentary, which looks into a now “desolate Egyptian holiday resort” is a commentary on the resort and the destination's emptiness following the decline in tourism in Egypt. The film portrays the inhabitants of the seaside city post its golden age as they go through the same daily motions despite the resort's desolation.
“Every day they go through the motions of their morning dance, preparing the massage tables, cleaning empty rooms, serenading the ballroom and DJing round the swimming pool. All to barely any guests,” says London Guardian’s Charlie Philips.
The documentary, which was selected for the BFI London Film Festival, premiered internationally at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in the Czech Republic and at the El Gouna Film Festival for its Middle East premiere.
The feature-length documentary not only beautifully captures the external loneliness and void of the resort but it also manages to show the internal struggles as well in following the resort’s staff while they continue through the mundanities of daily routine in attempt to uphold their fleeting dreams.
The German-Egyptian co-production hints at the setting being after the Arab Spring when tourism declined in Egypt but it is never outrightly said.
Sharm El-Sheikh, which used to see tourists flocking in yearly from all over the world, took a hit after the revolution having gone from the It destination to a city that barely saw anymore international or national tourist for a while.
During the Egyptian revolution of 2011, tourism went down by more than 37 %, going from 14 million visitors in 2010 to 9 million by the end of 2011. However, recent efforts done by the country have been an ensuring a steady pick-up and large improvement in terms of tourism.
Both visual artists and filmmakers, Omara and Domke have previously worked together on a project in 2013, Crop.
Omara adds that the film "is about a city where Egyptians and Westerners meet, culturally speaking, and this is precisely the process Johanna and I use. We have a very interesting time discussing a given situation in the light of our respective backgrounds”
The Cairo International Film Festival will be taking place from November 20th to November 29th.