Fahmi predicts further decline of Arab cinema

DUBAI — Hussain Fahmi, the famous Egyptian actor and the former president of Cairo Film Festival, yesterday predicted further decline of Arab cinema, which he said was one of the main reasons that made him step down as the president of the Cairo Film Festival, having served it between 1988 and 2002.

By A Staff Reporter

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Published: Thu 9 Dec 2004, 11:45 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 1:24 PM

Fahmi also spoke on various other issues pertaining to the Arab, Egyptian, Hollywood and Bollywood cinemas.

“I have no intention of presiding again the Cairo Film Festival as I have faced various problems regarding the approval of various films to be screened on the days of the festival. During the period of chairing the festival, various Palestinian movies financed and co-produced by Israel were brought up to be screened at the festival and I was totally opposed to the idea of screening a movie financed by the Israelis who are responsible for the bloodshed of thousands of Palestinians daily," he said, adding that he prohibited the screening of a movie with blasphemous content.

Fahmi warned that Arab movies will witness a further decline in quality and quantity if immediate efforts to encourage growth are not implemented. These efforts include support from governments, increased security for filmmakers and commitment from the industry itself.

“Arab cinema is on a decline and is heading the way of the French and Spanish cinema that are no more a force even within their regions. Even Italian cinema has lost its vibrancy and at the moment only American and Indian cinema are showing signs of future growth and dominance on an international level.

“America and India produce a huge number of movies each year that are premiered at around 5,000 cinemas while the situation in the Arab cinema is worse as less movies are produced. Many Arab countries stay stagnant for so many consecutive years without producing a single movie. A few years back, Egypt used to produce 60 in a year but now they only produce six movies a year. The less quantities of movies produced and distributed in the Arab world shows that Arab Cinema is suffering from a problem in the production and the distribution of movies.

Expressing his opinion about the DIFF, Fahmi said: “The timing of the inauguration of the Festival coincides with those being held in Cairo and Morocco and in the future we will ensure that such conflicts in timings are avoided. We are happy to note that despite the overlapping dates, there has been a very positive response to Dubai festival. I feel that competition is in the favour of all and we should encourage each regional festival. Dubai's strategic location and exposure to a large number of cultures can provide the winning combination that encourages further development in Arab cinema.”

Explaining his greatest disappointment regarding the failure to produce a joint Arab movie, he said: "I have been in the acting profession for over 30 years where we have met and discussed various issues pertaining to the film industry at regional forums and agreed on the need for a joint venture that allows filmmakers creative freedom and revives Arab cinema. For 30 years, we have implemented none of our ideas. This situation can change if we have a strong will and motivation to develop and even revive our cinema industry.”

Praising Baheb El Cima (I love Cinema), an Egyptian film by Oussama Fawzi being premiered at the festival, he said: "It is a movie discussing various important issues regarding the society we live in. The movie succeeded in criticising all forms of oppression facing people.”

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