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Why Khairy Beshara’s Cult Classics Are More Relevant Now Than Ever

January 22, 2023

Downtown Cairo’s Zawya Arthouse Cinema is currently hosting its Khairy Beshara Retrospective program, celebrating the Egyptian auteur’s work through a series of screenings and Q&A sessions. I have been a faithful attendee since the program started on 5 January. Having never seen Beshara’s films in cinemas, I looked forward to watching stories I knew only from television unfold on a large screen. I expected to feel bittersweet nostalgia, but instead, was met with an uncanny sense of recognition. From grueling neorealist dramas to vibrant musicals, decades on, these films still feel like acute reflections of our socio-economic reality. Champion of the underdog Khairy Beshara counts among the pioneers of Egyptian neo-realism, alongside Mohamed Khan, Atef al-Tayeb, and Daoud Abdel-Sayed. The 1980s movement aimed to be acutely faithful to reality, through naturalistic acting, on-site filming, and a focus on the lives of ordinary people. Owing to their documentary quality, neorealist films serve as deeply accurate portraits of their time — a record of sociopolitical tides, but also of people, their habits, and the ever-changing urban landscape — inviting and facilitating comparison with the present day. Yom Mor w Yom Helw (Bitter…

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