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afrita04“Examples of Egyptian filmmaking date back to the beginning of the 20th century, with Cairo becoming a hub of commercial filmmaking in the Arab world with the introduction of sound. It was there that the country’s first “Hollywood-style” film studio, the well-funded Studio Msr (a project of wealthy financier Talaat Harb) was established in 1936. From that point until the mid-60s, when the film industry was nationalized by President Nasser, a vibrant commercial aesthetic prevailed, with a pantheon of glamorous stars churning out genre entertainments calculated for mass appeal. It was a time during which Egypt turned out a staggering majority of the Middle East’s Arab language films—nearly a hundred a year—and did so with a level of technical sophistication easily on par with that of any Western film industry.”


Keith Allison is the chief bacchanologist at MEZZANOTTE.


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