Capital Celluloid 2023 — Day 200: Thu Jul 20

The Land (Chahine, 1969): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 6pm

This is a 35mm screening and is part of the Youssef Chahine season at BFI Southbank.

BFI introduction:
The Land is among Chahine’s most rewarding films, playing to his strengths as a filmmaker. This rural epic takes place in an Egyptian village in the early 1930s, a time when Egypt was theoretically independent but still entangled with serving British interests. The inciting incident is the news that the already overstretched farmers will have the water supply for their crops halved – a move that will destroy their livelihoods and their community. Placing their trust in the wrong people to help them, the community finds themselves under further threat from corruption and urbanisation. Chahine’s film has extraordinary complexity, both in depicting the huge number of competing influences on Egyptian society and the way the social dynamics play out between each character, with each relationship fully realised. Chahine is able to inspire, by showing the villagers standing side by side, but also admits that political oppression will not always unite the dispossessed. With wonderful performances from Hamdy Ahmed, Mahmoud Al Meleji, Ezzat El Alaili and Nagwa Ibrahim, each character is fascinating but flawed. Chahine affords these rural citizens the full focus and dignity of humanity.

Here (and above) is an extract.

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