Friday, June 16, 2006

Movie with Gay Themes in Egypt Stirs Controversy

I want to see this! According to the Christian Science Monitor, which is actually a quite objective news source despite its name, an Egyptian film, The Yacoubian Building, is causing quite a stir, partly because of gay themes in it. A quote:
While the film covers many taboo subjects, what's perhaps most surprising,
film critics say, is that it passed Egypt's censorship unscathed. But Egypt's
President of Censorship Ali Abou Shadi says he really liked the movie. "It's an
important film," says Mr. Shadi. "It's critical of the government, extremism,
homosexuality. We don't want to cover our eyes about this."

Nevertheless, in its uncensored state, Shadi and the film's creators agree,
"The Yacoubian Building" may well offend and anger Egypt's government and public
alike. Religious fundamentalists might complain about its portrayal of Islam,
they say. Others might argue that it shows a bad image of Egypt. Some may be
scandalized by the film's homosexuality.

Shadi says "critical of...homosexuality", but I'm willing to bet in a movie that's causing such a stir, he means critical of discrimination against homosexuality. The aricle doesn't say what exactly happens in the film, just what subjects it touches on. I'm intrigued...I hope it comes here to Lebanon. Actually, I hope it goes everywhere in the Arab World.


Anonymous Brian Whitaker said...

The book version (by Alaa el-Aswani) proved very popular in Egypt and has been on sale for several years without serious problems. Its portrayal of homosexuality might be considered realistic, though it's far from affirmative. Nevertheless, gay people in Egypt seem to have appreciated it. As with many other characters in the book the gay newspaper editor is said to be based on a real and well-known person.
Perhaps the most interesting question is how closely the film will be allowed to follow the book. It is difficult to imagine that some of the scenes described in the book can be shown on screen, at least in Egypt.
One long-standing requirement of the censors is that "immoral actions and vices are not to be justified and must be punished". The gay theme in the Yacoubian Building is probably acceptable on that score because the editor ends up being murdered by his lover.

June 19, 2006 10:36 AM  

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