FILE – Mekkawi Said FILE – Mekkawi Said

‘Zat Makan’ traces Mekkawi Said’s passion for Downtown

Thu, Dec. 7, 2017
CAIRO – 7 December 2017: “Dear Downtown, I have owed you since my childhood. How many times have I played in your streets, and crossed your squares? How many eyes were glowing because of your buildings’ facade?”

“How I smelled the air breeze that surrounds your tree branches… how I wished and dreamed to write about you, I tried, and finally I wrote and expressed some of your beautiful features.” Through his words, writer Mekkawi Said opened Ahmed Shawky’s film “Zat Makan” (The Identity of a Place) with a love letter to his inspiration, his beloved Downtown Cairo. The short documentary film follows Said in Downtown Cairo, showing his writing career and Downtown’s history.

Through the film, Said insists that Downtown Cairo is important for the whole world as “it is an incredible cultural site. Any author should get approval from Downtown’s audience first.”

Downtown has many different cultural platforms that give chances to different writers to express their thoughts and talents such as the cultural cafe's that once hosted various literary seminars.

He started his literary career in Downtown; its audience and its history are the main elements of his writing and his success, which inspired his 2010 film “Moqtanaiat Wust el-Balad” (The Holdings of Downtown).

Said explains that Downtown occupies a position in the hearts of the Egyptian people, as it was the center of major revolutions throughout history such as Ahmed Orabi’s revolution against Khedive Tawfik in 1881, and the January 25th revolution in 2011.

Born in 1956, Said started his career by writing poetry and was inspired by his contemporaries such as Ahmed Abdel Moaty Hegazy and Salah Abdel Sabour. He also released his first short-story collection entitled "Al-Rakd Waraa’ al-Dawa’" (Chasing the Light) in 1981.

His book "Taghreedet al-Baga’a" (The Swan Song) was nominated for The Arabic Booker Award in 2008.

Renowned for his love of Downtown Cairo, Said held various seminars and book discussions in different venues within the area.

He has published a number of successful novels such as "Al-Maidan Wa Tagleiatoh" (Tahrir Square and its Manifestations) and "Moqtanaiat Wust el-Balad" (The Holdings of Downtown).
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