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The Culture Vulture's Guide to D-CAF 2018

Film screenings, concerts, plays, performances and workshops of every kind at this year's Downtown Contemporary Arts Festival.

Staff Writer

The Culture Vulture's Guide to D-CAF 2018

Although it’s become a fixture on Cairo’s arts and culture calendar, the lure of the Downtown Contemporary Arts Festival (D-CAF) certainly hasn’t waned. In fact, this year’s edition promises to be the most eclectic yet, with a carefully curated combination of theatre, dance, cinema and art bringing attractions from every corner of the globe.

This year, D-CAF has even expanded its reach outside of Downtown, while also paying homage to the women that have pushed boundaries in music. It continues to open discussions about arts and disability and even shines the spotlight on topics such as media-to-media adaptations. But enough of the small-talk, it's time to feast your eyes on what’s in store.

NoiseBox: Projection Mapping

Founded in 1998, the Hungarian visual arts group, Glowing Bulbs, invites art fans to participate and interact with their latest installation, NoiseBox. For their debut in the Middle East, they’ve created the instillation that encourages its guests to play on analogue drum sets, which will in turn trigger projections onto the wall. The art project takes place in a single room, but gives the illusion of an endless void.

It's a free event taking place at the Old French consulate from the 8th till the 11th of March, everyday from 5 to 10 PM.

From Script to Stage: The Creative Performer (Acting Workshop)

In this three-day workshop, French actress Clementine Baert shares her insight into the world of script writing and acting. The workshop, From Script To Stage, will be exploring topics like stage improvisation, character perspectives, and more. Tackling both the acting aspect and writing aspect of theatre, the talented Baert will be beginning each session with a vocal and a physical warmup. This is a chance to also warm up your imagination. Working mainly in theatre performances, Baert is also known for her onscreen performances, having acted in movies alongside Jean-Charles Fitoussi, Emmanuel Mouret, Olivier Dahan and Wim Wenders. 

Anyone wishing to participate must fill in an application form and send it to with the workshop name as the subject line. Limited spaces. The event will take place at the Institut Français d’Egypte from the 9th till the 11th of March form 2:30 to 6 PM.

DCAF'18 Opening Concert with Samira Said, Pink Oculus, Elbi, and Shahira Welnas Elkhatira

Kickstarting this year with a series of performances that celebrate women in the music industry, D-CAF is bringing a line up of talented women from all over the world, including artists like Samira Said from Morocco, Pink Oculus from the Netherlands, Elbi from France and Shahira Welna Elkhatira from Egypt. Honoring women’s creative strength and independence, the concert which features women hailing from different ethnicities and background, is set to take place at Al-Azhar Park.

Tickets are 150 EGP (30% off for women) and will be from 5 PM to 7 PM.

Mapping with Touchdesigner

In a two-hour workshop covering video mapping and touch designer, the artists behind the interactive project, NoiseBox, will be exchanging tricks of the trade and giving participants an inside look into the programming behind the art instalment. Vjing, is a terms used for creating real time visual performances. An expert in Vjing and a member of the Hungarian Glowing Bulb, Gabor Kitzinger has designed major large scale architectural mappings and taken part in a number of VJ performances worldwide. He is known for his solo video art, music videos, and sound-reactive A/V shows,

The event is free but you have to register by filling out an application form and sending it to with the name of the workshop in the subject line. Limited spaces. The workshop will take place on the 10th of March at the Hungarian Cultural Institute (Balassi) from 2 PM to 7 PM.

Choreography Captures: 40 Short Films

Joint Adventures aspired to increase awareness of dance and choreography through unconventional means. And thus Choreography Captures, was born in 2008. It will be featuring dancers, choreographers and multi-media artists from all over the world. In this competition, artists are asked to come up with innovative aesthetics approaches and visual languages for choreography. And here's the catch, it has to be within a 60 second framework. The jury will be made up of experts hailing from the worlds of international film and dance. There are monetary prizes and prizes awarded in the cinema category, including the presentation of the winning films with cinema partners throughout Germany and Switzerland. This is the community that promotes innovation, artistic exchange and a platform for self-expression through the art of dance.

Entrance is free if ticket for Cherepaka is purchased. The event will take place at the AUC Falaki Theatre at 7:30 on the 10th and 11th of March.


In this live performance, actors take the stage to give us a look into an essay inspired by Francis Bacon’s painting as written in philosopher Gilles Deleuze’s book “The Logic of Sensation”. Exploring notions related to art, aesthetics and sensation, Cherepaka, reimagines techniques of contortion through a lens of representation. This performance tears down the layers of human existence’s fragile beauty and transforms acrobatic language within body language. As choreographer and director known for his creative deconstruction methods, Andréane Leclerc, graduated from the National Circus School Montreal in 2001.

The event will take place at the AUC Falaki Theatre on the 10th and 11th of March from 8:30 to 9:25 PM. Tickets are 40 EGP.

Beggars and Noblemen

Beggars and Noblemen is an adaptation of a graphic novel by Albert Cossery. The Egyptian-French collaboration follows the detective work of a police inspector, Nour El Din, as he embarks on a mission to unveil the perpetrator behind the death of a woman, at the end of the second world war. As the murder and the detective, close in on each other, they both come to startling realizations. Having worked in the film industry for several years, Asmaa El Bakry is the Egyptian film director, author, and illustrator who brings this adaptation to life. She worked as an assistant to noted Egyptian director Youssef Chahine, as well as with Saad Arafa and Khairy Beshara.

The film will be showing at Zawya Downtown on the 11th and 19th of March at 7:30 PM. Tickets are 35 EGP.

Cultural Dialogue: Discussing Cultural Relations in Egypt

Taking a closer look at the forces at play within cultural relations, the cultural value project is a joint research endeavour tackling the conditions, places, and contexts of how to improve cultural relations in Egypt. Moderators Olga Kononykhina and Malte Berneaud- Kötz, will be uncovering recent survey results done by The Hertie School of Governance while also looking into the conditions and context of cultural relations within the country. Having worked in projects for UNESCO and the council of Europe, Olga Kononykhina, is a quantitative sociologist and data scientist at the Hertie school. Malte Berneaud-Kötz is a research associate at the school and a graduate of Hertie’s school master public policy.

Anyone wishing to participate must fill out an application form and send it to with the name of the workshop as the subject line. The event is free and will take place at Orient Productions Office on the 12th of March at 6 to 10 PM.


This South Korean-Czech Republic film imagines the world in the year 2031 as it ends following an environmental experience gone bad. The Snowpiercer, a train which houses the sole survivors hailing from different social classes has bred an economic and social class system of its own. Problems arise when the lower class citizens decide to better their social standing and devise a plan to make it to the front of the train and divide the wealth among themselves. It will be shown in English with Arabic subtitles.

The film will be screening at Zawya Downtown on the 12th and 18th of March at 7:30 PM. Ticket are 35 EGP.

Alors, Est-Ce Que C'est La (So, is it Here?)

Alors, Est-ce que c’est la (So is it here) is a theatre piece exploring the absence of a loved one and the emotional repercussions and turbulence that come with it, from the perspective of the person being left behind. In a monologue performed by Clementine Baert, who is not only famous for her theater but also for her onscreen appearances, this piece looks into questions of perceived reality, Illusions and the truth. Baert is seen following the footsteps of her forgone lover. The opposing nature of the influence he has on her is that of attraction and repulsion. We are forced to take a deeper look into questions like Is what we perceive true? What do our illusions reveal?

The event will take place at the AUC Falaki Theatre on the 13th and 14th of March at 8:30 PM to 9:20 PM. Tickets are 40 EGP.

Fault Line: Projection Mapping

Reintroducing Downtown Cairo, Fault line is a performance that moves colors, patterns and light, in an effort to transform architecture in the heart of the city. The piece is inspired by the ephemeral nature of energy releases and how they are related to the rapid movements in our world, referred to as “faults”. Created by international multimedia artist Rebecca Smith, this visual project focuses on sharp lines, abrupt connections and dynamic interactions of motion. Finding inspiration in abandoned sites and street art culture, Smiths uses “Forgotten” areas as a canvas for several of her works.

The event will take place on the 16th of March at the GrEEK Campus at 7 PM. Event is free if ticket for Tarek Yamani, Out of Nations, and Al Sawareekh is purchased. 

Tarek Yamani, Out of Nations, and Al Sawareekh

Born and raised in Beirut, New Yor- based jazz pianist, Tarek Yamani, creates a style he calls Afro Tarab, through which he seeks to bring together two cultures and their creative heritages through a third on in African-American jazz. Out of Nations, meanwhile, is band that aspires to bring people together in what unites them the most, and that is their humanity. While the band members all carry difference passports, they are connected in their humanity and on a musical level. Visuals will be created to match the Middle Eastern and Latin inspired electro-acoustic grooves. Al Sawareekh are an Egyptian band that are on the way up the musical ladder, having found fame with the release of mahragant track La’La’ in 2017. 

The event will take place at the GrEEK Campus on the 16th of March at 8 PM

Film Screening: Sanctuary

In a film that the Galway Advertiser referred to as funny, heartwarming and heartbreaking, two intellectually disabled lovers fall for each other and fight to be together. Sanctuary follows the starstruck lovers, Larry and Sophie, as they fight against all odds and break all sorts of rules in loving one another. Lary and Sophie refer to their care worker, Tom, to book a room for them in an attempt to be intimate.

The event will take place at the AUC Falaki Theatre on the March 17th at 7 PM and will be followed by a talk and discussion with the director. Entrance is free.

Before the Revolution

This is an in-depth performance covering a time right before the revolution happen. Before the revolution immerses its audience in the the emotional turmoil and intellectual events occurring right before the revolution erupted. The revolution came as a result of creative, intellectual and social oppression, deception, and depression that had accumulated over decades.

The event will take place at the Rawabet Theater on the 7 PM to 7:40 PM on the 18th, 19th, 20th, 21th, 24th, and 25th. Tickets are 30 EGP.

Possessions - World Premier

Inspired from the writings and experiences of third Century AD. desert hermits, Possession (Al Ghiwaya), is a performance of poetic musings. Blending Coptic, Nubian, Sufi, Arabic and Tibetan musical influences, the show is a lyrical work embodying Egyptian desert experiences.

The play will be performed at Studio Nasibian Theater on the 21st, 22nd, and 23rd of March from 5 to 6 PM.

Masterclass: How to Turn a Graphic Novel into a Film

Graphic novel adaptations have been all the rage in the world of modern cinema as of late; what with the wealth of highly-detailed and thoroughly fleshed out source material lending the silver screen much needed gravitas and artistic value. The transition from page to film, however, is hardly ever as waterproof as you may think it is. That’s why this year’s Film and Literature Programme over at D-CAF is planning a more thorough look at movie adaptations of tried and true graphic novels, as well as the process of realizing them from a technical perspective. Initiative Film will be discussing some of the most prolific graphic novels that have found success on both big and small screens, with a key emphasis on the logistics behind demographic targeting, production both locally and internationally and much, much more.

Anyone wishing to participate must fill out an application form and send it to with the name of the workshop as the subject line. The workshop will take place on the 21st of March from 7 to 8:30 PM at the old French consulate.

Small Rooms 

Love has a habit of springing up in even the most hostile environments, but how long can it hold? How much can it take? Caught in a whirlwind of emotions, the melancholic cast of Small Rooms, a play by Wael Qaddour set in 2010 Damascus, sees main characters Saba, Saad, Hanan and Ammar try to keep the ever-fragile candlelight of love alight in a tense and unrelenting social environment, with pain accentuating almost each step of their journey. "My aim has always been to see different members of our fragmented society together on stage, director Hassan El Geretly, says of the piece. “For it is during such performances that the barriers between us melt, even if the differences remain."

The play will be performed at El Warsha on the 22nd and 24th of March from 5 PM to 7 PM. 


Routine is, in more ways than one, a slow and tedious killer. Though there isn’t much to blast about having the same day-to-day experiences every day of every week, talking about the same topics with the same people over the same cup of coffee, there isn’t a whole lot to like either. Carnivorous follows that same vein; opening on a city-dwelling couple firmly nestled in their comfortable, uneventful existence. Soon, however, a spot of news upends the couples dull old lives and gives their relationship a much needed jumpstart, opening up the door to a hitherto of unexplored meanings and eternal happiness.

The play will be performed at the AUC Falaki Theatre on the 22nd and 23rd of March from 6:30 to 7:25 PM.

Bachar Mar-Khalife, TekLife, BitTurner+100Copies Concert

There’s going to be a whole hell of a lot of noise over at the GrEEK Campus on the 22nd of March with an intercontinental lineup of some of the most rhythmically talented musicians this side of the hemisphere. French-Lebanese contemporary connoisseur Bachar Mar-Khalifé along with dastardly US DJ’s Tek Life, DJ Tay and TASO go head to head with 100 Copies; Egypt’s premier techno-sha3bi talent Islam Chipsy and Sadat as well as BIT-TUNER, and last but not least; Andro EL Hawy & El Sweasy. Contemporary, Jazz, Alternative, Indie and Electronic are coming together for a mad mix of melodies.

The event will take place at the GrEEK Campus at 8 PM on the 22nd of March.

Egyptian contemporary Dance Program

With a lineup of 7 energetic dance performances and showcases courtesy of the Egyptian Contemporary Dance Programme, D-CAF’s hosting some of the brightest up and up and coming dance talents making their grand debut on the Arab stage.

The event will take place at the Rawabet Theatre on the 22nd and 23rd of March from 8 to 10:30 PM.

IETM Cairo Satellite Meeting

IETM (International Network for Contemporary Performing Arts) is a huge international network for performing arts organizations and individuals from the worlds of theatre, dance, new media and more and are holding a series of talks that pose big questions to contemporary arts:if isolation is the biggest threat to any artist, would it be from the audience or from peers? Enforced by censorship, closed borders and wars, isolation has become a major challenge in the MENA region. How do you connect with and within Arab countries? Networks, clusters, creative hubs, co-working spaces, incubators: how can we think collaboration and partnership in the MENA region? How can networking can be a tool of support and development? Can it help overcome the funding and accessibility issues faced contemporary Arab artists? What tools should one use to make the best out of networking opportunities?

The first, second, and third talks titled 'With(in) MENA,' 'Between Mobility and Migration, where do Arab Artists go and why,?' and 'Beyond City Limits' will take place at the GrEEK Campus on the 23rd of March from 10 AM to 6 PM. The fourth talk titled 'Who’s disabled?' will take place on the 24th of March from 10 AM to 12 PM. All talks are free. Registration is required through the IETM website.

Street Performances

One of last year’s most well-received elements of D-CAF was the street performances and 2018’s edition promises to be even better. The first piece, Dedicated to… is a duet performance that shines a light on the relationships we make and keep – the relationships that provide love and support and how they evolve.

Trolleys, meanwhile, is possibly the most peculiar in that that it fuses ballet and, well, shopping trolleys in a rather interesting way. Also using elements of street dance and acrobatics, the story goes as thus: two trolleys meet and fall in love, only for the other three to revolt.

The product of a two-year journey, Shapers sees the Marseille-based Ex nihilo Company reach out to collaborators in Alexandria, Casablanca, Sarajevo and Seville for an eight-performer show that questions cities and spaces as well as the communities that fill them.

The event will take place at MASQ - Maq‘ad of Sultan Qaitbey on the 23rd of March at 1:30 PM and at the Behalor Passageway on the 24th of March at 1:30 PM.

Cultural Resistance and Storytelling Workshop

Can art really trigger change? More specifically, can theatre be a catalyst? Ahmed Tobasi and Zoe Lafferty ask these questions in a workshop that focuses on their work at The Freedom Theatre in Palestine’s Jenin Refugee Camp on the West Bank.

Anyone wishing to participate must fill out an application form and send it to with the name of the workshop as the subject line. The workshop  will take place at the studio Emad Eddin from 2:30 PM to 4:30 PM on the 23rd of March for free.

As Far As My Fingertips Take Me

In one of the most talked-about attractions at this year’s D-CAF, As Far As My Fingertips Take Me invites attendees to interact with anonymous refugees through, essentially, a hole in a wall. Said refugees will share their stories, while marking the attendees with visual cues.

The show will take place at the DCAF Festival hub every ten minutes from 4 PM to 10 PM on the 23rd, 24th and 25th of March. The event is free but registration through is required. 


Workshops by the Fence Network

Established in 2003 as an international network for playwrights, The Fence takes the lead in this series of workshops which invites the theatrically-inclined to take part in exercises on narrative, structure, character, language, inspiration and storytelling, among other things.

Anyone wishing to participate must fill out an application form and send it to with the name of the workshop as the subject line. The workshop will take place at the studio Emad Eddin on the 23rd and 24th of March from 2 PM to 4 PM.

Roundtable: The Sharing of Experience: The View of People at the Heart of Inspiration

Media-to-media adaptations have become a part and parcel of modern culture and have become entangled in how we consume media. But what this roundtable discussion proposes is that there’s much more at play, asking how these transformations take place and what the economical, legal and psychological implications are. Writer of Snowpiercer, Benjamin Legrand, and Algerian comic book artist, Defali Djilali, will be discussing their experiences on the matter with their work.

Participants are encouraged to attend the D-CAF screenings of Beggars and Noblemen and Snowpiercer before attending.

The roundtable will take place at the Institute Francais on the 23rd of March from 7 PM to 9 PM. The countable is free but registration is required through the DCAF website. 

Disability in The Arts in Collaboration with UNESCO and the British Council

Bringing together representatives from the British Council in Egypt and the UK, as well as UNESCO, this panel discussion puts the spotlight on the idea of a disability art scene in Egypt – does one exist? Should one exist or does it only serve to separate further? How can we ensure that that the art scene is more inclusive, beyond awareness campaigns and one-off events?

The event will take place at the GrEEK campus on the 24th of March from 5PM  to 7 PM. The event is free.  

The Store

Looking at the often ignored plight of African migrants, The Store is a unique portrayal of those who will risk their lives to escape the non-democratic regimes and wars that continue to ravage Africa.

The event will take a place at a confidential location that will be revealed on the 24th of March at 5 PM, 7 PM and 9 PM. Entrance is free but registration is required through

And Here I Am

A coming of age story, Ahmed Tobasi’s And Here I Am, is a tale of personal discovery that combines fact and fantasy. Being both dramatic and comedic in its portrayal of the Palestinian Intifadas, this unique play follows Tobasi’s transformation from an armed resistance fighter to an artist.

The play will be performed at the Rawabet Theatre on the 24th of March in English at 6:15 PM and on the 25th and 26th of March in Arabic at 6:15 PM and 8:30 PM respectively. Tickets are 30 EGP.


Exploring motherhood and femininity, Ta’ Sakena (Dormant Energy) is a theatrical piece that is the result of a yearlong workshop undertaken with twelve female caregivers at Abassia Mental Health Hospital’s children’s clinic. The piece touches on the taboo of mental health in Egypt, as well as the position of women in society.

The play will be performed on the 24th and 25th of March at the Old French Consulate at 6:30 PM. Tickets are 30 EGP.


Conceived, directed and performed by Dalia Kholeif, Aysha is a personal portrayal of pain, agony and anxiety. The monodrama is based on Kholeif’s own experience living and coping with an invisible deaseas and the constant struggle that faces her because of it.

The play will be performed at the studio Nassibian (Jesuit Theatre) on the 24th and 26th of March t 7 PM. Tickets are 30 EGP.

The Second Copy: 2045 

One of the most inventive acts to grace the stage this year comes in the form of Moroccan performer, Youness Atbane, and The Second Copy: 2045 – a conceptual performance that takes the form of a documentary from the year 2045. Said documentary hypothesizes a world where political conflicts have deemed art obscure and only memories remain of it. Language, movement and images exists as completely different phenomena that can exchange and interact.

The play will be performed on the 24th and 25th of March at the old French consulate at 8:30 to 9:15 PM. Tickets are 30 EGP. 

Inclusive Dance Workshop 

Candoco Dance Company’s Inclusive Dance Workshop does exactly what it says on the tin, in inviting choreographers and dancers of all experience and ability to engage in creative tasks with a view to allowing them to open conversations as to relate what newly found skills they’ve attained to their own practices.

Anyone wishing to participate must fill out an application form and send it to with the name of the workshop as the subject line. The workshop will take place at the GrEEK Campus on the 25th and 26th of March from 4 to 10 PM.

Emerging Arab Choreographers

Curated by Nedjma Hadj Benchelabi, Emerging Arab Corographers brings together four original works from Egypt, Jordan and Tunisia.

The Absentee (Egypt) addresses the overlooked and disenfranchised and how fear, distance, love and death have come to produce more and more of a chasm between us and those we take for granted.

Utopia (Egypt), meanwhile, explores our innately never-ending pursuit for the big answers in life – even if some of the biggest questions don’t have answers. But there are rare times when we do gather our thoughts and maybe, just maybe, it’s the pursuit that matters most.

I Listen (You) See (Tunisia) focuses on the day-to-day interactions between sound and movement and how they can be adapted into chorography, while exploring the tension between the rough and rhythmic, inspired by labourers in Tunisia.

Inspired by performers Abd Al Hadi Abunahlehand Anas Nahleh's multi-identity and their view of their complex heritage, Wojoud Wa Hodoud (Jordan) explores the idea of authenticity, while shining a spotlight on the struggle to reconcile different cultural aspects that they subscribe to.

The event will take place at the AUC Falaki theatre on the 25th and 26th of March from 8 to 10 PM.

The Alien Perspective: Scenography Workshop

One of the more introspective interactive events, The Alien Perspective is workshop that analyzes our positions, individually and collectively, in the context of culture through a dramatical text and scenographical concept that addresses the human condition(s) from an external perspective. Participants will engage with a mise-en-scene that will lead to discussions on what narrative structures could be created to alter these outside perspectives.

Anyone wishing to participate must fill out an application form and send it to with the name of the workshop as the subject line. The workshop will take place at Studio Emad Eddin on the 26th of March from 2 to 10 PM.