Egyptian cinema has always been a strong advocate for the Palestinian cause, reflecting the Arab concern through various stories that highlighted different aspects of the issue over time.
However, Egyptian cinema has not produced many films that directly deal with the issue. This is partly due to the nature of art, which requires time and inspiration to create a unique work that reflects the reality and emotions of the people. It is also partly due to the production’s decision, which may not find the topic commercially viable or politically safe. Nevertheless, some films have managed to portray the Palestinian cause in different ways, and some artists and filmmakers hope to see more works that support Palestine in the future.
The first film to address the Palestinian cause was “A Girl from Palestine,” directed and starring Mahmoud Zulfiqar, with the participation of the actress Souad Muhammad in 1948, coinciding with the establishment of the state of Israel. The film exposed the crimes of the Jewish gangs that formed the basis of their state. Another film that tackled the issue was “Land of Heroes” in 1953, directed by Niazi Mustafa, which shed light on the problem of corrupt weapons that hindered the mission of the four Arab armies to liberate Palestine from the Jewish gangs. The film featured Lola Sedqi, Abbas Fares, Koka, and Tawfiq Ismail.
In 1975, the film “Land of Peace” starred Omar Sharif and Faten Hamama, and highlighted the loyalty of the Arab people to the Palestinian cause and their support for it by various means, especially commando operations inside the occupied territories. After the assassination of the Palestinian cartoonist Naji Al-Ali in London in 1987, director Atef Al-Tayeb made a film about his life and struggle in 1992, starring Nour Al-Sharif and Laila Jabr.
The most recent film to delve into the Palestinian issue was “Welad El Aam” (Our Cousins) in 2006, directed by Sherif Arafa and starring Karim Abdul Aziz, Sherif Mounir, and Mona Zaki. In this article, we discuss the role of cinema in supporting the Palestinian cause with some artists and filmmakers.
Palestine is our cause
Omar Abdel Aziz, the head of the Federation of Artistic Syndicates, said: “Egyptian cinema is an integral part of the Egyptian state that has supported the Palestinian cause since its inception, starting with its army that defended Palestine in the 1948 war until today. It is undeniable that the cause has been neglected for years, but what is happening in Gaza today has revived it and made it rise in the hearts of all Arabs.
He explained: “The issue of the lack or scarcity of works that shed light on Palestine and what is happening there is not subject to the artist’s authority, but rather to the production’s decision. However, in our current time, and in light of the brutal aggression that Gaza is facing in all its forms, which lacks any humanity, this will certainly result in multiple works in cinema, television, theatre, and also in singing and music, all of which will glorify the heroes from the various countries of the Arab world who have confronted the Zionists over the decades, from the 1920s to the present day, and the steadfastness of the heroes of Gaza and the West Bank in the face of this brutal occupation. We will all struggle until this land is liberated and an independent Palestinian state is established. Our struggle as artists is to highlight every heroic role through national works that aim to raise public awareness.”
Many artistic works about Palestine coming soon
Mohamed Abu Dawoud, an actor, said: “The Palestinian cause, with all its events, heroism, and glories, did not receive its due attention in Egyptian cinema as it should have. This is normal for the artistic conscience, which needs some time for the writer to get inspired and produce a unique work for us, and then for the producer to get interested, and as a result, the rest of the work team to come together. Making a cinematic film in this context takes a long time. In short, art first observes and then presents the events it observes in artistic works.
He added: “Egyptian art in general, if we browse its history, we will find many works that revolve around the Palestinian issue, not just cinematic. There are many radio, theatrical, and television drama works, including the series “A Knight Without a Horse” by Mohamed Sobhi, which caused a great stir in Israel at all levels. We conclude from this that when an artist is moved by an event, he records it in his notebook until the day it comes out to the public in the form of an artistic work. But I believe that the coming period will witness a variety of works in various aspects of art about Palestine, as we ask God to support its people and defeat its enemy and our enemy.”
We must delve deeply into the roots of the issue
Hassan Al-Adl, an actor, said: “Arab cinema did not play its role properly in the Palestinian cause. If we want to serve this cause with cinema, we must delve deeply into the roots of the issue, which will inevitably lead us to the conclusion that there is no such thing as the state of Israel. Palestine is the true name of this blessed spot on earth. The Israelis must go and search Golda Meir’s papers and they will find her passport with which she entered the Palestinian Arab land before the Zionist gang wove its nets around the land and spewed its poison everywhere.”
He added: “I recently watched an Israeli film about the October 1973 war called “Golda.” It was supposed to whitewash their army somewhat, but instead, it glorified the Egyptian soldier, his courage, strength, readiness, and toughness through the events of the film, in addition to the weakness with which they portrayed their army and their leaders during the war. The film confirms that it was a huge war led by brave men and fought by heroic soldiers, and no matter how much someone tries to distort the picture or obscure it, the truth will hit him in the face, just as happened in the Israeli film “Golda”. I hope to focus artistically on the issues of Arab rights, publishing the facts, and introducing stories of heroism. This is to sharpen motivation and establish the foundations of patriotism in the hearts of young people through purposeful art so that they remain awake and attentive to their land and committed to defending it against any aggression from any greedy or spiteful person who has lost his senses.”