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Downtown Cairo, 2009. Khalid, a 35 year old filmmaker is struggling to make a film that captures the soul of his city while facing loss in his own life. With the help of his friends, who send him footage from their lives in Beirut, Baghdad and Berlin, he finds the strength to keep going through the difficulty and beauty of living IN THE LAST DAYS OF THE CITY.Written by
The Egyptian film Akher ayam el madina (2016) was shown in the U.S. with the title "In the Last Days of the City." It was co-written and directed by Tamer El Said.
The movie starts Khalid Abdalla as Khalid, and Laila Samy as his girlfriend Laila. The real star of the movie is the city of Cairo, where most of the footage was shot. What makes this movie unusual is its construction. It's part a cinematic portrait of Cairo, and part a movie within a movie.
Khalid is the actor who is portraying the director. Khalid's life--and maybe Tamer El Said's life--is going nowhere. He has an on and off relationship with Laila. His mother is hospitalized. Anti-government demonstrations are taking place all over Cairo. He keeps getting more movie footage, but doesn't know how to use the footage to portray the Cairo reality. Of course, the film-within-a-film actually is the movie we watch.
This movie is hard to review, because so much is happening. In reality, so much was, indeed, happening. The footage was shot before the Egyptian Arab Spring, but edited afterwards. So, the director had hindsight about his movie, but he worked with the footage he had taken before the Arab Spring.
The movie is somewhat confusing. Confusing of not, the movie worked for me. It was interesting and some of the footage was fascinating. I don't know much about Cairo, so it's hard for me to tell whether the picture of the city is realistic or not. I'll take director El Said's word that this is the city he saw and presented to us. Another director may have made a totally different film. Who can say?
We saw "In the Last Days of the City" in its Rochester premiere at the wonderful Dryden Theatre in the George Eastman Museum. It will probably work almost as well on the small screen. The movie carries a so-so IMDb rating of 6.9. I think it's much better than that.
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