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Cairo Station

Cairo Station Lowest new price: $20.99
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Youssef Chahine's masterpiece. A street level expose of sexual obsession and working class madness that s as grimy and claustrophobic as its Cairo railway station setting. From its noirish opening scene, in which a scruffy newspaper hawker discovers a rag strewn living quarters filled with cutout girlie pictures and intones, I knew then that something was desperately wrong, it s clear that the film has departed from the upper class realms of typical 1950s Arab cinema. Chahine moves his camera as fluidly as a sleepwalker through a nightmarish world where, as luggage porters strive to unionize and all sections of society swarm along the tracks, the crippled street vendor Qinawi (played by Chahine himself) feverishly desires a brash, beautiful and utterly uninterested lemonade seller, with dangerous results. Combining Italian neo-realism, Egyptian romanticism and overheated film noir, Cairo Station was unlike anything anyone had seen on movie screens before.

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Control Room

Control Room Lowest new price: $4.97
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Control room is a rate film that is both timely and timeless: timeless because it ecplores the ancient and complex relationship between the western and Arab worlds timely because it reveals how satellite television has changed the way wars are reported- from news providers driven by the patriotism of their audiences to army information officers driven by military objectives. Control room is a seminal documentary that explores how truth is gathered presented and ultimately created by those who deliver it.System Requirements: Running Time 86 MinFormat: DVD MOVIE Genre: DOCUMENTARIES/MISC. Rating: NR UPC: 031398169321 Manufacturer No: 16932

Startling and powerful, Control Room is a documentary about the Arab television network Al-Jazeera's coverage of the U.S.-led Iraqi war, and conflicts that arose in managed perceptions of truth between that news media outlet and the American military. Egyptian-American filmmaker Jehane Noujaim ( catches the frantic action at Al-Jazeera headquarters as President Bush stipulates his 48-hour, get-out-of-town warning to Saddam Hussein and sons, soon followed by the network's shocking footage of Iraqi civilians terrorized and killed by invading U.S. troops. Al-Jazeera's determination to show images and report details outside the Pentagon's carefully controlled information flow draws the wrath of American officials, who accuse it of being an al-Qaida propagandist. (The killing of an Al-Jazeera reporter in what appears to be a deliberately targeted air strike is horrifying.) Most fascinating is the way Control Room allows well-meaning, Western-educated, pro-democratic Arabs an opportunity to express views on Iraq as they see it--in an international context, and in a way most Americans never hear about. --Tom Keogh

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Alexandria...Why? Lowest new price: $27.01
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Set in the Egypt during and after World War II, Youssef Chahine's autobiographical drama of his youth in Cairo is a bright, bustling mosaic of a country embroiled in conflict and struggling with its identity. Centered on the story of high school student Yehia Mourad (Mohsen Mohiedine), Chahine's cinematic alter ego, it's national history through a personal perspective and the first film autobiography ever in Egyptian cinema. As the strains of nationalism set Arabs against British soldiers, political factions against one another, and races and cultures at odds, Yehia escapes through theater and the movies, dreaming of Hollywood as he stages his own plays and theatrical reviews until he's swept up in student activism. No stranger to challenging conventions and taboos, Chahine features an interfaith romance between a Jewish woman and a Muslim activist and a homosexual relationship between Yehia's wealthy uncle and a young British soldier among his many stories. In fact, he packs the film so full that the colors threaten to bleed together, but Chahine masterfully keeps the film coherent and clear while driving it forward at a racing pace. The action at times abruptly jumps from one thread to another, as if matching Yehia's torn loyalties between art and political action, but the tonal shifts only add another layer of richness to the passion Chahine has lavished on this film. It won the Special Jury Prize at Berlin in 1979 (Chahine's first major festival prize), and was followed by two other autobiographical films, An Egyptian Story and Alexandria Again and Forever, which became known as the Alexandria Trilogy. --Sean Axmaker

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Alexandria Again and Forever

Alexandria Again and Forever Lowest new price: $14.90
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The last film in Youssef Chahine's autobiographical Alexandria Trilogy stars Chahine himself as his cinematic alter ego, Yehia Mourad, completing his merging of fiction with real life and drama with psychodrama. Opening with Chahine's triumph at the Berlin Film Festival, where he took home the Silver Bear for Alexandria...Why? (the first film in the trilogy--this is layered stuff), the film explores Yehia's obsession with his young star, Amir, while participating in the general strike of 1987. As Yehia fantasizes about the films they would make together (one of them looks like a loony take on Jesus Christ Superstar), he elevates Amir from a kind of adopted son to cinematic messiah. But while caught up in the strike, Yehia becomes enchanted by a former actress turned dedicated revolutionary, and he decides to cast her in his next feature.

While this is a serious portrait of art, politics, and aesthetic inspiration, it's also a deliriously playful film full of fantasies played out like Hollywood movies. One of the loveliest moments is an old-fashioned song and dance in which the two men celebrate their Silver Bear in a snowy German street like a scene out of Singing in the Rain, while his grand daydream of an ancient Egyptian historical epic takes an unexpected turn into Keystone Cop slapstick. The mix of whimsy and wizened reflection is infectious in Chahine's exploration of the muses and visions that drive his art. --Sean Axmaker

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A Man in our House

A Man in our House Lowest new price: $259.00
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Adrift on the Nile

Adrift on the Nile Lowest new price: $259.00
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In "Adrift on the Nile" we meet a group of hedonistic middle-aged friends who gather each night on a luxurious houseboat for dancing, love-making and smoking hashish. When a young news reporter visits the houseboat to write a story on the group, she is outraged to learn the tragic depths of their social alienation. Based on the novel by the Nobel Laureate Naguib Mahfouz, this 1971 production offers a revealing look at the Egyptian elite on the eve of the 1967 War. By this time, Nasser had ushered in an age of enormous social change, leaving the sons and daughters of the old bourgeoisie high and dry. Directed by Hussein Kamal, "Adrift on the Nile" features the atmospheric cinematography of Mostapha Emam and a delightful musical number in color. DVD EXTRAS include English and French subtitles, rare original trailer and filmographies.

Alexandria Trilogy

Alexandria Trilogy Lowest new price: $159.99
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Destiny [Region 2]

Destiny [Region 2] Lowest new price: $31.99
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France released, PAL/Region 2 DVD: it WILL NOT play on standard US DVD player. You need multi-region PAL/NTSC DVD player to view it in USA/Canada: LANGUAGES: Arabic ( Dolby Digital 2.0 ), Arabic ( Dolby Digital Stereo ), English ( Subtitles ), French ( Subtitles ), WIDESCREEN (1.78:1), SPECIAL FEATURES: Interactive Menu, Scene Access, SYNOPSIS: In twelfth-century Cordoba, the Caliph orders all books written by the eminent philosopher Averroe's to be burnt, to mollify the fundamentalists. Averroe's family and followers decide to make copies of his books and smuggle them across the border. Despite the pressure from fundamentalists, human knowledge prevails and the influence of Averroe's teaching extended through the Enlightenment to the present day. SCREENED/AWARDED AT: Cannes Film Festival, ...Destiny ( Le Destin ) ( Al Massir )

An Egyptian Story

An Egyptian Story Lowest new price: $5.72
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The second of Youssef Chahine's autobiographical Alexandria Trilogy takes place largely in the mind of Chahine's cinematic alter ego, Yehia Mourad (Nour El Cherif), or, to be more accurate, his torso. Rushed into emergency open-heart surgery after an on-set heart attack, Yehia is put through a fantasy trial in a courtroom situated in his rib cage (a rather theatrical-looking contraption of white sheets draped over wooden ribs) as he flashes back on his life. Chahine embraces the absurdity of the silly device with fanciful fun (his inner child rebels against the stodgy grownup by crawling through his veins and undoing the surgery) but it's the flashbacks that carry the film's power. Think of it as Chahine's All That Jazz, only less flashy and more thoughtful. The young director struggles within the industry, sacrificing his vision and his politics in commercial compromises, sacrificing his family for his art, still dreaming of Hollywood while toiling in the low-budget environs of Egypt.

Fans of Chahine will recognize startling re-creations of two of his most famous films, Cairo Station and The Sparrow, but you don't need to know his work to feel the strain of his conflicts. Inspired by his real-life bypass surgery and the self reassessment it triggered, Chahine is more critical than you might expect; he forgives himself his sins, naturally, but never quite lets himself off the hook. Followed by Alexandria Again and Forever, which stars Chahine himself as Yehia. --Sean Axmaker

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The Nightingale's Prayer

The Nightingale's Prayer Lowest new price: $398.90
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The Nightingale's Prayer (Arabic: دعاء الكروان‎, translit. Doaa al-Karawan is a classical 1959 Egyptian drama film directed by Henry Barakat and based on a novel by the prominent writer Taha Hussein. It stars Faten Hamama and Ahmed Mazhar. In 1996, during the Egyptian Cinema centennial, this film was selected one of the best 150 Egyptian film productions. It received an award of recognition from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and was selected as the Egyptian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 32nd Academy Awards, but was not accepted as a nominee. It was also entered into the 10th Berlin International Film Festival. (via Wikipedia)

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