Love Cairo. So deeply that when I am asked «why», I am at a loss of words. The most serene moments of my life, the most poignant verse I know … «How do I love thee, let me count the ways?» It is your untold vestiges? Overwelming, but again… Your life-giving Nile ? Your blazing sun ? Doubtless, and yet … As e frenchman loves Paris ? Of course. But you see, it is the people that I love, not stones. I like their kindness, their sense of humor. Granted, the Egyptian people are religious. But certainly not fanatic. Effortless, they combine sensuality and spirituality. A mixed marriage. It takes two to love. If not more. Otherwise how could I love 22 million people at the same time ? An entire capital. I like those who can include others in their own lives. People sharing a tiny space learn to deal with others. To understand them. And espacially to love them. To live them.
Youssef Chahine (born in Alexandria, Egypt, 1926) started studying in a friars’ school, and then turned to English College until the High School Certificate. After one year in the University of Alexandria, he moved to the U.S. and spent two years at the Pasadena Play House, taking courses on film and dramatic arts. After coming back to Egypt, cinematographer Alevise Orfanelli helped him into the film business. His film debut was Baba Amin (1950): one year later, with Ibn el Nil (1951) he was first invited to the Cannes Film festival. In 1970, he was awarded a Golden Tanit at the Carthage Festival. With Le moineau (1973), he directed the first Egypt-Algeria co-production. He won a Silver Bear in Berlin for Iskanderija… lih? (1978), the first installment in what proved to be an autobiographic trilogy, completed with _adduta misrija (1982)_ and Iskanderija, kaman oue kaman (1990). In 1992, Jacques Lassalle proposed him to stage a piece of his choice for Comédie Française: Chahine chose to adapt Albert Camus’ « Caligola, » which proved hugely successful. The same year he started writing Mohager, al- (1994), a story inspired by the Biblical character of Joseph, son of Jacob. This had long been a dream-project, and he finally got to shoot it in 1994. In 1997, 46 years and 5 invitations later, he was again selected Hors Competition in Cannes with Massir, al- (1997).