How Egyptian cinema portrayed laborers
By: Mustafa Marie
Wed, May. 1, 2019
CAIRO - 1 May 2019: Labor Day is celebrated annually around the world on May 1. The Egyptian cinema discussed in many films the important role laborers play in society and the challenges they encounter.
Egypt Today presents a review of the most significant seven films that tackled laborers' lives and the famous artists who embodied the roles:
“El Aydi el Naema” (The soft hands)
This film is usually broadcast on Labor Day in Egypt. The film is starring Ahmed Mazhar, Salah Zulfikar, Sabah, Maryam Fakhreddine, and Laila Taher. It is written by Tawfiq al-Hakim and Yousef Jouhar and directed by Mahmoud Zulfikar.
The film revolves around the life of a prince who lost his property after the end of the monarchy. The prince meets an unemployed young man with a doctorate who suggests the prince rents his palace to make a living.
"Bab el Hadid" (Iron door)
The film, produced in 1958, deals with the lives of railway workers and newspaper sellers through Qenaoui, a newspaper seller who falls in love with Hanouma who sells soft drinks in railway stations and only has feelings of pity for him. Hanouma also loves and intends to marry another and while she is preparing to get married, Qenaoui decides to kill her because of his extreme jealousy.
However, fate puts another girl in Qenaoui’s way. In the end, Qenaoui is reported as a psychopath and is apprehended by Hasan al-Baroudi who was like a father to him.
"El Ard" (The land)
The Egyptian farmers' societal role was portrayed in Youssef Chahine’s "El Ard which discussed the suffering of the Egyptian farmer who would die to protect his land.
The film was inspired by writer Abdul Rahman al-Sharqawi's novel that bears the same name. "El Ard" is starring Mahmoud el-Meligy, Ezzat Alayli and Najwa Ibrahim.
”El Nemr el Aswad” (The black panther)
This movie stars Ahmed Zaky, Ahmed Mazhar,Wafa Salem, Youssef Fawzi, Ahmed Abu el-Fath, and Bashir Deek. It is directed by Atef Salem.
Ahmed Zaky appeared in the role of an Egyptian boxer named Mohamed Hassan who immigrated to Germany to achieve his dreams. The Egyptian man practiced boxing and was assisted by his Greek coach. Mohamed eventually became a professional boxer in Germany and his fans titled him “the black panther”.
”El Osta Hassan” (Mr. Hassan)
The film portrays the life of Hassan who worked in an Iron factory. Although Hassan has a child and a wife who loved him dearly, he resented his life. The man meets a woman from a “higher class” who falls in love with him. The woman takes Hassan from his home and life hoping to turn him to a businessman. Hassan eventually goes back to his simple life with his wife and his work as a laborer in an Iron factory.
The film was produced in 1952 and was starring Farid Shawky, Hoda Sultan, Thuria Salem, and Zuzu Madi. It is written by Farid Shawky and Sayed Bedeir and directed by Salah abu Saif.
"Lel Regal Faqat" (For men only)
This film highlighted the role of working women and their ability to work in hard jobs usually seen as- men only- jobs. The film is starring Soad Hosny,Nadia Lotfy, Hassan Youssef and Youssef Shaaban. The film is written by Mohammed Abu Yusuf and directed by Mahmoud Zulfikar.
"Fatat el Masnaa" (Factory girl)
This film first screened in March 19, 2014. It illustrates the different struggles encountered by girls working in fabric and clothing factories. The film is starring Yasmin Raeis, Salwa Khattab, Salwa Mohammed Ali and Hani Adel. It is directed by Mohammed Khan.