CAIRO: A film retrospective celebrating the centennial of the late Egyptian writer Ihsan Abdel Quddous is currently running at Cairo’s art-house cinema Zawya. The retrospective opened Oct. 18 with a screening of 1972’s “Empire of M” and features 14 of the 49 films written by Quddous, or adapted from his literary works. It runs until Nov. 1.
According to the organizer’s notes, Quddous “played an integral role in shaping the Egyptian cinematic and literary memory. It proved a challenge to program a retrospective that would encompass and rightfully represent his wide body of work.”
Highlights include “I Am Free” (1959), “Don’t Put Out the Sun” (1961), “The Black Sunglasses” (1963), “The Thin Thread”(1971), “The Dancer and the Politician” (1990), and “The Dancer and the Drummer” (1984). The latter will be screened in the presence of Egyptian actress Nabila Ebeid, who starred in several films written by Quddous.
The aim of the retrospective was to curate a program that “depicts the variety characterizing the adaptations of Abdel Quddous’ work, spanning different stages and time periods,” said Nawara Shoukry, head of cinema at Zawya. “We created a wish list, then approached distributors and copyright owners.”
Shoukry added that the Abdel Quddous family provided original film posters, on show at the cinema in parallel to the screenings.
Abdel Quddous’ grandson, journalist Sharif Abdel Kouddous, spoke at the event on opening night. “Unfortunately, he died when I was still in school, before I developed my own ideas and views in politics and in life, and before I became a journalist,” he said, praising his grandfather’s “prolific writings” and “the extent of their impact on Egyptian and Arab society.”
“I always imagine how much I would have learnt from him and benefitted from talking to him and from his experience,” he said. “His journalism was always independent and against the regime. This freedom has had a direct influence on me.”