سينما الدولة سينما بديلة: قراءة في تجربة القطاع العام السينمائي في مصر / National Cinema as an Alternative Cinema in Egypt



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التلمساني, مَيّ; El Telmissany, May

Document Type

Research Article

Publication Title

Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics

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[This is a critical reading of a number of films produced by the public sector in Egypt. The reading seeks to analyze the specificity of this experience, as a serious attempt, on the government's part, to establish an alternative cinema which sometimes surpassed the prevalent traditions of commercial cinema. This alternative cinema aimed, through assigning a predominant role to social awareness and revolutionary thinking, at firmly establishing the realistic trend in Egyptian cinema. A great number of public sector films, produced between 1963 and 1971, come under the umbrella term, "the cinema of overcoming." This was regarded as the only kind of cinema capable of surpassing the concerns of profit and loss and the fear of expressing certain social contents. It was established by and under the full patronage of the government. This reading comprises an analysis of the main features of the cinema of overcoming, through tackling the three basic qualities that distinguish those serious films produced by the public sector. These qualities are: the specificity of the realistic trend, the literary and artistic nature of cinematic language, and the politico-economic traditions of alternative cinema. Censorship regulations at the time remained moral in the first place and political in the second and not vice versa. The conflict between censorship and the institution was one form of establishing an alternative cinema which seeks to establish new trends that oppose the dominant and which creates a new audience that defends its existence and continuity. The Egyptian public sector cinema has brought with it new economical patterns and institutional structures which support and encourage serious cinema. It is only in this specific sense that it can be called an alternative cinema, since it has neither substituted nor hindered the activity of the private sector. This cinema has not replaced the available tools (studios, laboratories, technicians and artists), by new ones, either. Keeping in mind what has been written and said about this sector and about the search for a new national cinema, one cannot ignore the integral role played by the government in improving the cinematic scene in Egypt under the current international pressures, whether on the artistic, economic or political levels.]

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