Author:Andrews, Beverly
Position:Mosaic: CINEMA - Movie review


In film history there can be few films that could be said to so accurately tap into the collective pulse of a country as has the small Egyptian independent Microphone. Set in Egypt's second-largest city Alexandria and shot on a microscopic budget, the film looks at the life of an Egyptian exile who returns to his native country to find the restrictions placed on the lives of the country's young people unbearable, and takes a courageous stand to do all he can to fight them. Microphone in many ways predicts the political events that would engulf the country less than a year after the film's release, culminating in the quite spectacular toppling of the long-standing regime of Hosni Mubarek. At its British premiere in the London film festival, Ahmad Abdalla discussed the film and the ideas behind it.

"Originally when we started shooting we wanted to make a documentary about this music scene that I hadn't known before. But it got bigger and bigger and we decided to go with it." Microphone's central character has the same name as its lead actor, the well-respected actor Khaled Abol Naga, and quite playfully mixes fantasy with reality. The fictional story is that between Khaled and the character played by Menna Shalabi, Khaled's ex-girlfriend, a woman who several years before he was in love with, but who nevertheless he walked out on. Khaled now regrets his actions but Menna is more interested in escaping what she sees as the suffocating environment of the city than rekindling lost love and hopes to emigrate to Europe and a new life. During Khalad's quest to win her back, he stumbles across the underground art scene which he had hitherto been completely unaware of an art scene which not only challenges the political status quo of the country but also questions the gender roles which most older Egyptians have come to accept. Heavily made-up girls play wailing lead guitars (cleverly using their make-up to disguise their identity from their more traditional parents), rappers who could give Jay-Z a run for his money and graffiti artists who comment on the world around them with startling, vibrant murals. Khaled is mesmerised by this world and the ideas it stands for, and decides that it is his mission to find a location where they can stage a public concert. This simple act sets him on a collision course with the country's authorities--a confrontation that the director leaves you in no doubt can at the time have only one...

To continue reading