When it comes to the entertainment in the Arab world, there’s nothing quite like Egyptian cinema. The movie business in Egypt has been flourishing for decades, dating all the way back to the era of silent films.
With thousands of movies produced since 1908, the list of great films is a long one, but we’ve narrowed it down to five classics everyone needs to watch.
Based on a novel by Alaa Al Aswany, The Yacoubian Building has become a cult must-see Egyptian classic. Starring Adel Imam, the story is centred on a luxury apartment building housing some of Egypt’s most powerful figures who then moved out after the 1952 revolution. The ultra-prestigious building then became home to poor migrants from the countryside and the film trails the story of the building while touching on important aspects of the urbanisation of Cairo.
Directed by Henry Barakat, The Nightingale’s Prayer is an absolute classic. The film is based on a novel by Taha Hussein, and follows the story of a woman’s revenge plot after watching a family member murder her sister in what is described as an “honour killing”.
Alexandria… Why? (1997)
Youssef Chahine has carried an expansive career in the film industry, directing some of the most watched and treasured films in Egyptian cinema. His 1979 feature Alexandria..Why? is a tale of love, glamour and war—following the story of a teenage boy obsessed with love and Hollywood, and the grim realities of the world he had to eventually face.
The Flirtation of Girls (1949)
A classic tale of love, The Flirtation of Girls was an immediate hit. Directed by Anwar Wagdi, the story tells the story of a wealthy Pasha who hired an unemployed teacher to tutor his daughter only for the teacher to eventually fall in love and fight for her attention with another suitor.
Aside from dramas, Egyptians are known for producing classic comedies as well. The Kit Kat is a comedy that’s likely to make you both laugh and cry. The film’s main character, Sheikh Hosny, is a blind man who despite his disabilities carries a dream to live a full life and migrate to Europe.