Wednesday December 6th, 2023
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In Conversation With the Cast of Award-Winning Egyptian Film 19B

Actors Sayed Ragab, Ahmed Saleh, Nahed El Sebaie and director Ahmed Abdallah bring us behind the scenes of their acclaimed film.

Farah Desouky

Amidst the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020, acclaimed filmmaker Ahmed Abdallah found himself looking inward, contemplating the notion of isolation and its impact on his relationship with his friends, his loved ones and his city, Cairo. Abdallah’s introspection led to the narrative behind his latest drama, ‘19B’, which follows the story of an elderly doorman overlooking an abandoned villa in Heliopolis, whose solitary life is interrupted when a young man forces him to confront his own past.

‘19B’ is the latest addition to Abdallah’s thought-provoking filmography, which includes 'Heliopolis' (2009), 'Microphone' (2010), 'Decor' (2014), and 'Exterior/Night' (2018). The film brings us into the private world of the unnamed doorman, with the villa embodying both his home and workplace. While the once-glamorous streets around him rapidly change, new power dynamics seep into the doorman’s home, where he’s forced to negotiate his autonomy with his ex-con neighbour, Nasr.

Starring Sayed Ragab as the doorman, Ahmed Khaled Saleh as Nasr, and Nahed El Sebaie as the doorman’s daughter - as well as a cast of stray animals who are every bit as integral to the script - ‘19B’ made its world premiere at the 44th edition of the Cairo International Film Festival, scoring the Best Arab Film Award, the Henry Barakat Award for cinematographer Mostafa El Kashef, and the FIPRESCI award. The film was also recently selected for Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival, the Hollywood Arab Film Festival and Malmö Arab Film Festival as part of the official competition.

Following its commercial release in cinemas across Egypt, we caught up with Abdallah, Ragab, Saleh and El Sebaie as they took us behind the scenes and into the very villa where the story took place.