Saturday, October 27, 2012

"The Italians of Egypt": trailer

Trailer for an 80 minute documentary by Sherif Faty Salem, produced in 2011 for and Al Jazeera. One man interviewed in the trailer asserts that Italians lived mostly in Egyptian and not foreign districts. We learn that Italians had a major influence on the architecture of Alexandria (where most of them lived), and that Mario Rossi, the chief architect of the awqaf commission, built most of the city's mosques. One interviewee claims that there was equality between Egyptians and Italians (a rosy view, bathed in nostalgia).

Italians, like other foreign residents in Egypt, who played a major role in the economic development of Egypt from the reign of Muhammed Ali in the early nineteenth century, mostly left Egypt in the 50s and 60s, especially after Gamal Abdel Nasser's moves to nationalize the economy in 1962. The film interviews some of those who remained. The Italians, however, were distinct from other foreign communities in Egypt in that their community took a big hit during the Second World War, when the British colonial overlords rounded them up and interned them.

Among the famous Italian-Egyptians are the poets Filippo Marinetti and Giuseppe Ungaretti.

I look forward to finding this film and watching it in full.

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