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Time travel has been long been a focal point of science fiction, some would even say the first true sci-fi stories are those dealing with time travel, such as the Hindu epic the Mahabharataand H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine. Director Youssef Alimam (who we happened to have just interviewed for another of his awesome projects) tells the tale of an institutionalised man claiming to be from the future and his doctor who can’t escape from the past with his science fiction short film, Egypt’s first, Speed of Light. With a feature-length adaptation of his short in the works Youssef will soon add his name in the epic story of the genre.
When an unconscious man is found on the roof of an abandoned building, he is brought to an institution to be evaluated. He tells his doctor “I’m from the future, if I don’t return in 72 hours I will die,” pleading with the doctor to believe him. When asked why he would travel back he responds simply, “I was trying to save someone from dying.” His doctor knows this motivation all too well, having recently lost people he deeply cares for. This is the setup for the 8-minute short. Like the best science fiction, the story of Speed of Light is a human one that uses science and futurism as a mechanic not a substitute for real plot. “It’s a very personal story,” Alimam says, telling us that losing someone you love can cause so much pain that you have to find something to believe in, even if it’s not logical.
Alimam has garnered quite a bit of buzz for his work, which was a graduation project from film school two years ago. Predictably when he told teachers and fellow students that he was working on a sci-fi film for his project, he was met with doubt and disbelief. The film roamed about to different film festivals in the time since, including The Dubai International Film Festival and the Qabilla Film Festival where it won best director. Alimam - who cites 1999’s The Matrix as a huge influence on not only on his work but his life - is working on his own to find funding to independently create a full-length film based on the short.
Speed of Light deals with some pretty complicated scientific theories, special relativity among them, and luckily Youssef had a friend on hand who was studying physics at the time. He was able to make sure the film made scientific sense as to not distract from the very human story.
Check out the short Speed of Light below and keep an eye out for news on the upcoming feature and possibly a crowdfunding campaign.