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Wednesday, May 22

The May program of Mizna Film Series: Feminist Visions presents a retrospective of Atteyat El-Abnoudy’s work. Often considered Egypt’s pioneer documentary filmmaker and “filmmaker of the poor,” El-Abnoudy’s oeuvre maps the intersections of class, labor, and gender in Egypt, largely through the perspectives of women. With training in law, journalism, and filmmaking, El-Abnoudy was active as a documentary filmmaker from the 1970s through the early 2000s. El-Abnoudy’s films offer an intimate glimpse into the lives of working-class Egyptians through politically engaged and socially preoccupied documentary form. Giving a voice to women outside of Egypt’s metropolitan centers, El-Abnoudy enables her film subjects to return the camera’s gaze and narrate their stories in their own words.

In 2011, El-Abnoudy donated her archival collection to the founders of Cimatheque, an alternative film center in the heart of Cairo, as they were setting up their space. The donation kick-started and shaped the center’s archival practice. Cimatheque is now a multi-purpose cultural space that provides resources, trainings, and programming for the independent filmmaking community in Cairo. Additionally, Cimatheque houses an archive comprised of rare films, prints, manuscripts, and other extracinematic materials spanning more than 60 years of Egyptian, Arab, and global alternative cinema history. Since it opened its doors in 2012, Cimatheque has strived to make Egypt’s cinematic heritage and El-Abnoudy’s film collection accessible. Part of that task includes safeguarding El-Abnoudy’s film collection, and Cimatheque is set to undertake a restoration project of select titles from the collection in order to digitize and preserve her work.

This program is co-presented with Cimatheque and ArteEast.

HORSE OF MUD (1971, 12m) Atteyat El-Abnoudy’s first documentary depicts women in a mud-brick factory in the center of Cairo, where they are treated like ‘horses’, working at repetitive and monotonous tasks in miserable conditions. Nevertheless, El-Abnoudy brings out the women’s dignity, showing a beautiful choreography to their movement. By giving control of the microphone to the workers themselves, she also allows the women’s own stories to be interleaved with their work.

SAD SONG OF TOUHA (1972, 12m) In many ways the sister film to Horse of Mud, El-Abnoudy’s second film, Sad Song of Touha, was her graduation film at the Film School in Cairo. This documentary is a portrait of Cairo’s street performers. The artistry of this community of fire-eaters, child contortionists, and other performers is captured through the lens of El-Abnoudy’s unobtrusive camera, accompanied by the spare and haunting narration provided by poet Abdel Rahman El-Abnoudy.

THE SANDWICH (1975, 12m) The Sandwich is an experimental short that explores the idyllic rural province of Abnoud. In a village that seems to have escaped the passage of time, the softness of the film’s focus on a group of children freely playing in an open, green space is effectively altered by outside forces. Deftly combining elements of fiction and non-fiction, The Sandwich is perhaps the lesser-known yet more confident of El-Abnoudy’s early films.

RAWYA (1995, 16m) A portrait of an ambitious peasant female artist in Middle Egypt.

PERMISSIBLE DREAMS (1983, 31m) Told through the eyes of Oum Said, a woman farmer living near the canal zone, Permissible Dreams captures a woman’s struggles with societal and gender inequality and the desire for a real education, but in typical El-Abnoudy fashion, eschews ideological trappings and the fetishizing of Egypt’s poorer classes.

7:00 $10

Showing at The Trylon Cinema

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The Trylon Cinema
2820 E 33rd St
Minneapolis, MN 55406 United States
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