Previously at the ICA - Films

Still: Alexandria, Why? Dir. Youssef Chahine, Egypt, 1978

Safar: Alexandria, Why? + curator introduction

23 Sep 2012


Alexandria, Why? marked a radically introspective turn in auteur filmmaker Youssef Chahine’s active career, as well as in the filmmaking of the Arab world more generally. It was a sharp departure from his 1950s musicals, melodramas and his later epic and political films. The first of Chahine’s semi-autobiographical films, Alexandria, Why? focuses on a precocious adolescent whose dreams and colourful attempts to become an actor unfold against the vivid backdrop of Alexandria during World War II. A rich ensemble cast, which includes Ahmed Zaki and Farid Shawqi, inspires Chahine’s young thespian hero with a wealth of dramatic subplots that capture both the uproarious and emotional aspects of wartime existence. The autobiographical nature and nostalgic flavour of Alexandria, Why? make it one of Chahine’s most audience-friendly works, a charming and entertaining film that is a homage to the Hollywood musical, and delivers a potently impassioned message against conflict.

Introduced by Omar Kholeif, curator of Safar.


Director: Youssef Chahine, Egypt, 1978, 127 mins, cert 12A


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