Friday May 24th, 2024
Download SceneNow app

Palestine in Egypt's Social Fabric, Comedy & Cinema

Here are 7 modern Egyptian films showcasing how the Palestinian cause has always remained present in the subconsciousness of Egyptians.

Riham Issa

Palestine in Egypt's Social Fabric, Comedy & Cinema

Every outcry in Palestine resonates in Egypt. In the early 2000s, Egyptians took to the streets to express solidarity with Palestine; the second Palestinian intifada shook Cairo, leading to unprecedented solidarity protests across Egyptian streets, university campuses, and professional syndicates. Today, two decades later, Palestine remains intricately woven into the Egyptian social fabric.

Dissent in solidarity with Palestine has unfolded across Egypt since October 7th. Most recently, on January 15th of this year, the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate hosted a solidarity strike, marking 100 days since the escalated violence in Gaza.

As we witness the mobilisation of the Palestinian struggle on Egyptian streets, it becomes apparent how frequently it subtly integrates into 'commercial' comedy films within Egyptian modern cinema. From Al Saee’dy Fi El Gama’a El Amrikkya to Wara’et Shafra, we've compiled a list of seven Egyptian comedy and drama films that exemplify how Palestine has always been embedded in the Egyptian psyche, even in comedy.

Hamam Fi Amsterdam

1999

The comedy blockbuster follows the story of an aspiring young Egyptian man named Hammam, portrayed by Mohamed Henedy, who travels to Amsterdam to pursue his dreams of becoming a rich and successful businessman. After getting robbed and losing his passport, Hammam stays with a group of Arab immigrants and works as a bathroom attendant in a hotel, where he meets his lover, Rokia. During this time, he finds himself working alongside an Israeli named Yoda, played by Ayman El Shewy. In one of Yoda’s relentless attempts to befriend Hammam – which proved fruitless – he aggressively tells Hammam that all Arabs are barbarous. This prompts Hammam to retaliate with a tirade reminding Yoda of Israel’s ongoing brutality and barbaric behaviours against Palestinians.

Ashab Wla Business 

2001 

Starring Moustafa Amar, Nour, Hani Salama, and Amr Waked, the film follows two renowned entertainment hosts, Tareq and Karim, who are in a competition to secure a high-stakes advertising campaign. In the midst of this competition, an anchor receives an assignment that requires him to visit Palestine during the first Intifada. While in Palestine, Karim encounters Gehad, a young Palestinian man portrayed by Amr Waked, who provides him with a glimpse of the unwavering resistance exhibited by Palestinians against Israel’s ongoing oppression.

Wara2et Shafra 

2008 

Featuring Hesham Maged, Ahmed Fahmy, and Chico, the film revolves around a young man and his two friends navigating modern Egypt in an attempt to locate a collection of rare ancient artefacts. These artefacts were taken from Jerusalem and hidden in Egypt around 586 B.C. by the protagonist's late grandfather. Unwilling to acknowledge the existence of the Israeli embassy, the trio embarks on a comical adventure, getting entangled in a merry-go-round of events as they attempt to locate the Palestinian embassy to secure their visas.Sa’eedy Fl Gam3a El Amrekeya 

1998 

The classic comedy unfolds the adventures of Khalaf Al Dahshori, portrayed by Egyptian comedian Mohamed Henedy. Khalaf, a young man hailing from a small village in Upper Egypt, secures a scholarship to pursue his studies at the American University in Cairo. The narrative intricately explores Khalaf's relentless attempts to navigate and assimilate within this new urban environment. 

A pivotal moment arises when university students, led by activist Ahmed, organise a campus strike in solidarity with Palestine. This serves as a collective expression of dissent against the USA's support of the Zionist regime and the systemic genocide in Palestine, all while underscoring the Israeli occupation of the land. The film skillfully captures the intersection of Khalaf's personal journey with broader socio-political issues. It provides a humorous yet thought-provoking commentary as Khalaf actively chooses to be part of the narrative. In a memorable scene, he burns the Israeli flag before performing a ‘Sa'eedy’ traditional dance, effectively conveying his stance on the matter.Andaleb El Dokki 

2008 

Starring Mohamed Henedy, ‘Andaleeb El Dokki’ follows the story of Fawzi, a humble aspiring Egyptian singer with dreams of stardom. After his mother's death, Fawzi discovers he has a twin brother, Fawaz, a millionaire living in Dubai. Hoping to reunite with his long-lost twin, he travels to Dubai and becomes entangled in a series of misadventures as he navigates Fawaz's personal life. The plot crescendos when Fawaz, the CEO of a global pharmaceutical company in Dubai, faces a threat for refusing to supply medication to Israel.

Determined to save his twin brother and nephew, Fawzi steps into Fawaz's shoes, assuming his twin's identity, and attends a meeting with an Israeli representative to trick them into thinking he'll sign an agreement. As the camera alternates between Fawzi's face in the meeting and cinematic flashbacks revealing the harrowing violence and atrocities inflicted by the Israeli armed forces on Palestine, the film subtly reflects how the Palestinian plight is ingrained in the Egyptian psyche. In a dramatic turn, Fawzi breaks the pen symbolising collaboration, vehemently declaring that his brother's company will never associate with Israel.El-Sefara Fi El Omara 

2005


Starring Egyptian veteran actor and comedian Adel Imam, ‘El-Sefara Fi El Omara’ follows the story of Sherif Khairy, an engineer who returns to Cairo after 25 years of working in an oil company in Dubai, only to discover that there is an Israeli embassy in his apartment complex.  During his stay in Dubai, Sherif Khairy developed a friendship with a young Palestinian kid named Eyad. While hosting a party for some Israeli diplomats at his apartment, Sherif discovers that young Eyad has been brutally killed by the Israeli forces in Palestine. Filled with rage and resentment, Sherif refuses to be an accomplice and kicks everyone out of his apartment.

Welad El A’am 

2009 

‘Welad El A’am’ follows the story of Mostafa, an Egyptian intelligence officer portrayed by Karim Abdel Aziz, on a mission to rescue Salwa, an Egyptian woman held captive in Israel. Salwa's husband, Daniel Navon, is revealed to be a secret ‘Mossad’ agent who assumed a false identity to marry her. During his secret mission in Tel Aviv, Mostafa's path crosses with Dareen, a young Palestinian woman on her way to carry out a suicide operation to avenge her brother's death by killing the Israeli officer responsible.

In their brief encounter, Mostafa manages to talk Dareen out of her decision and sends her on a bus away from the country. Before she leaves, Dareen gives Mostafa the key to her home in Palestine, explaining the symbolic significance of these keys for Palestinians who have been displaced, holding onto them in the hope of one day returning home. Mostafa keeps the key safe with him until he succeeds in his mission, with the hope that Dareen can one day return to Palestine.

×