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Townhouse’s Featherweight Cinema tackles visual representation

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The film program compliments an ongoing photography exhibition and aims to highlight how visual representation affects history and historical narrative

Still from Domestic Tourism II by Maha Ma’moun (Photo from Townhouse Gallery Facebook page)

Still from Domestic Tourism II by Maha Ma’moun
(Photo from Townhouse Gallery Facebook page)

Townhouse is hosting a two-day screening programme as part of a larger exhibition titled “The House of Rare Historic Photographs” by Barry Iverson. Iverson is an American photographer who has been residing in Egypt for 30 years and played a significant role in reviving the legacy of Van Leo and his photography.

“The idea behind the exhibition was to re-examine how photography and visual elements write history and its narrative but are taken for granted,” said Marwa Morgan of the Townhouse Gallery.

In conjunction with this exhibition, the film programme, titled “Featherweight Portable Cinema, Part I”, features short and feature-length films that examine this idea further.

On Saturday, Maha Ma’moun’s Domestic Tourism II and In Search of ‘Oil and Sand’ by Wael Omar and Philippe Dib were screened. Ma’moun’s film only uses footage from other Egyptian films that use the pyramids as backdrop, and explores how the monuments can be represented visually, from touristic postcards to the current political and social context.

In Search of ‘Oil and Sand’ is about searching for the lost footage of a film made by members of the Egyptian royal family and a few friends and relatives in 1952, called ‘Oil and Sand’. The film is about a coup d’état and was shot weeks before the monarchy was abolished in a real coup. The complete film was destroyed by the director who feared it would be used as propaganda against the ousted monarchy. The film follows Mahmoud Sabit, who found the original 8mm reels and who is related to King Farouk.

On Sunday, the screenings are of Mr Moonlight (2014) by Ahmed Shawky and The Three Disappearances of Soad Hosni (2011) by Lebanese filmmaker Rania Stephan.

Shawky’s short film is about the act and appearance of listening to retold stories that lose their original meanings and tell a different story when told another time. It is Cairo-based artist Ahmed Shawky’s first film. It will be shown at Townhouse in its rough cut version.

The Three Disappearances of Soad Hosni is pieced solely using VHS footage and tells in three acts recounts of Soaad Hosny’s life through the dialogue of her films as homage to the golden age of Egyptian cinema and a visual exploration of one of its most popular stars.

Next week, Townhouse is planning part II of the film program. It will feature the film Crop by Marawan Emara and Joana Donke. The film’s rough cut was screened at Townhouse in 2012 and the final cut is slated for next week. It deals with the theme of visual representation through media as it follows a photojournalist at Ahram, and how he encounters censorship.

All films will be screened at the Rawabet Theatre at Townhouse. The events will start at 7.30pm and attendance is free.


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