Sunday, July 27, 2008
R.I.P. Youssef ("Jo") Chahine
Egypt's great filmmaker, Youssef Chahine, passed away this morning in Cairo, at the age of 82. I was no great fan of most of the films he produced over the past two decades, but his production of the fifties and sixties puts him in the class of one of the world's great filmmakers. Cairo Station (Bab al-Hadid) in particular is quite simply, an almost perfect film. (See my earlier, brief, comments on it here.)
The photo shows Chahine in his role as Qinawi, in Cairo Station, holding a knife to Hanuma (played by Hind Rustum).
Note that the AFP story on Chahine's death linked to above includes a statement by French President Nicolas Sarkozy praising the director. In France, even a right-wing politician who is elected on an anti-immigrant platform is expected to have something favorable to say about an Arab artist with a global reputation. There would be no such expectation of Obama, if he is elected president, especially when it comes to Arab artists. Unless they have been approved as "moderate," i.e., in favor of peace with (read: surrender to) Israel. Which means no Nobel prizes, or favorable statements, about any for Arab artists, post-Naguib Mahfouz (d. 2006). Chahine was not "moderate."
Check out this smart obit in The Guardian. As of this moment, the New York Times has not seen fit to mention his death.