Watershed explores the rich past and complicated present of Egypt in our April season Egypt Now (Tue 16 – Tue 30 April). Focusing on a recent surge in contemporary filmmaking in Egypt, we present five fascinating films providing an essential context to the momentous upheavals that led to the unfolding of the Arab Spring. These films are the perfect complement to Pharaoh: King of Egypt, a British Museum touring exhibition at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery, exploring some of Egypt’s incredible history.
Here at Watershed we look beyond Cleopatra and mummys to journey through contemporary film into present day Egypt, a place that has experienced some intense social, political and cultural change. Egypt Now celebrates a new generation of talent who are creating fresh perspectives on Egypt and its people.
Highlights of the season include the Bristol premiere of Winter of Discontent – a title that neatly encapsulates the events in Egypt in 2011. As director Ibrahim el-Batout stood among the crowds in Cairo’s Tahrir Square on the eve of President Mubarak’s overthrow, his first instinct was to start filming and this is the result. The film sends out a message of hope as it follows an activist, a journalist and a state security officer in 2009 and the way they converge two years later during Egypt's 18-day uprising. At its world premiere at the 2012 Venice International Film Festival Winter of Discontent received a rapturous 10-minute standing ovation.
David Goldblatt, respected broadcaster and author introduces the screening here on Sun 21 April 15:00. David says:
‘I’m delighted to be introducing Winter of Discontent at Watershed; it’s a vitally important film that truly captures something of the energy and urgency of the 2011 uprising. It deserves to be seen by as many people as possible and I urge you to watch it.’
We also ask what role are women playing in Egypt now? In The Shadow of a Man (Sat 20 April 17:30) follows four women in the wake of the revolution, who talk openly about their fight for the future. This courageous, politically explosive film weaves together their stories of marriage, divorce, and resistance against Egypt's greater struggle for freedom. The screening is followed by a discussion hosted by Elhum Shakerifar, documentary producer (The Reluctant Revolutionary) and Bird's Eye View programmer.
Mark Cosgrove, Head of Programme says:
‘This is a great opportunity to be able to see work from the new generation of Egyptian filmmakers here at Watershed. At a time of huge change in that country following the Arab Spring it feels really important to be able to glimpse something of the hopes and fears of life in contemporary Egypt whilst we rediscover the country’s rich history through Pharaoh: King of Egypt exhibition at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery.’
Alongside five contemporary films, we also present a slice of Egypt’s spectacular past with Karl Freund’s 1932 classic The Mummy starring Boris Karloff (Sat 20 April 15:30) and Sir Christopher Frayling’s illustrated talk tracing the rise and spread of Tutmania which hit Britain in 1922 following the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun before the screening of The Mummy at 14:00.