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The year of the underdog in the culture scene - Daily News Egypt

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The year of the underdog in the culture scene

The year 2007 may be remembered as the year when mainstream entertainment took a backseat, giving way to the invasion of alternative culture. Nearly every form of popular culture failed to attract the millions who turned up last year to watch the blockbuster movies, major theatrical productions and purchase the latest albums of the country’s …


The year 2007 may be remembered as the year when mainstream entertainment took a backseat, giving way to the invasion of alternative culture. Nearly every form of popular culture failed to attract the millions who turned up last year to watch the blockbuster movies, major theatrical productions and purchase the latest albums of the country’s biggest pop stars.Instead, adolescents – still representing the largest, most active consumers of culture products – shifted their focus to independent films, small and experimental theater and stand-up comedy.Although poor comedies dominated the box-office along with a fair number of no-brainer action and naïve dramas, there was a silver lining. The year featured a surge of serious, well-crafted productions that heaped millions of pounds in the box-office in addition to the rare critical acclaim. The year’s top grossing films – “Morgan Ahmed Morgan, “Keda Reda, “El Gezira and even the patchy “Taymour & Shafika – are top notch entertainment flicks. Despite their flaws, they did not succumb to the crassness embraced by other films.The unexpected success of Mohamed Khan’s “In the Heliopolis Flat proved that there is a large audience for mature, intelligent films. The turnout for both independent and international film festivals continued to rise this year and new audiences – old and young, foreign and Egyptian, intellectuals and regular film fans – joined the curious droves that came to check out the hype surrounding the new cultural products.Popular music maintained its downward spiral into insignificance in a year that witnessed another new low for record sales. Apart from few hit records from established musicians like Amr Diab, Tamer Hosni and Mohamed Hamaki, no new artist succeeded in leaving a memorable impression this year. The number of released albums plunged dramatically from the past few years as the new “singles format continued to dominate the ailing music market.Besides the summer concerts that attract thousands of young music fans, the real music attraction this year was the large number of Egyptian independent bands populating cultural centers, music clubs, theaters and El Sawy Cultural Wheel – the hub of Cairo’s cultural activities.Reputable indie musicians such as Wust El Balad, Eftikasat, Eskinderalla, Black Theama and several others managed to draw legions of old and new fans. A number of international musicians gave live performances in Cairo this year. Algerian singer/songwriter Souad Massi gave one of the most successful concerts of the summer while the British Council’s music project Music Matbakh stunned the fans with the most innovative, energetic performance of the year.The dance scene also took another step forward this year. The diverse performances staged this year introduced break-dance and hip-hop to the public with B2D: Break to Dervish Madrid and The Flying Steps. The eighth International Festival for Dance Theater attracted a respectable number of fans for the several outstanding performances this year.The slow evolution of theater developed in the margins, leaving private/commercial and national theater in a state of uncertainty and irrelevance. Private theater is currently restricted to ancient plays by Adel Imam, Ahmed Adam and a new show by Samir Ghanem. National theater, on the other hand, boasted a considerable number of plays performed on their flourishing stages. Nearly all of the plays suffered from the persisting traditional ills of Egyptian theater as they struggled to present works of true merit.Independent theater, on the other hand, continued to provoke and fascinate. Popular AUC productions, the Cairo International Festival for Experimental Theater and the other independent performances enriched the scene this year with exceptional performances including “Isis Habibty, “Noises Off, “Chocolat, “Medea and “Memory of Water, the best Egyptian play of the year.The best new cultural hit of 2007 is, without a doubt, stand-up comedy. Sawy staged the first ever stand-up comedy performance with the Azhar Osman’s show in August. A few months later, the Axis of Evil Comedy Tour took Egypt by storm – thousands of tickets were sold and shows were quickly sold out. Egyptian TV drama reclaimed its throne from Syrian drama as millions of television viewers were glued to their sets with a horde of serials fronted by the country’s biggest stars including Youssra, Yehia El Fakharany and Nour El-Sherif. It was the Saudi-produced series “King Farouk that stole the limelight, almost rewriting recent history. “King Farouk was a true phenomenon, impelling nearly every single media outlet in the country to reopen the file of the most controversial figure in modern Egyptian history. Sales of books about Farouk and his era soared and a new generation developed a fixation for Egypt’s last monarch while millions of ruminated upon the glorious pre-Nasser age. Numerous major cultural events hit the international scene this year, including the current writer’s strike in the US and British Rock outfit Radiohead’s history-making decision to allow their fans to set their own price for the band’s latest LP.Sadly, 2007 will forever be remembered as the year legendary filmmaker Ingmar Bergman and Michelangelo Antonioni passed away at the end of July. The death of both filmmakers, critics from every corner of the earth attested, marks the end of the greatest epoch of filmmaking; the real conclusion to the one most imperative cultural movements of the 20th century.

Topics: Gamma Islamiya

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https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2007/12/30/the-year-of-the-underdog-in-the-culture-scene/
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