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Popular Egyptian Cinema Gender, Class, and Nation by Viola Shafik

Popular Egyptian Cinema Gender, Class, and Nation


Popular Egyptian Cinema Gender, Class, and Nation by Viola Shafik

In this groundbreaking work, film scholar Viola Shafik examines popular and commercial movies from Egypt's film industry, including a number of the biggest box-office hits widely distributed in Egypt and the Arab world. Turning a critical eye on a major player in Egyptian cultural life, Shafik examines these films against the backdrop of the country's overall socio-political development, from the emergence of the film industry in the 1930s, through the Nasser and Sadat eras, up to the era of globalization. In unearthing the largely contradictory meanings conveyed by different films, Popular Egyptian Cinema examines a broad array of themes, from gender relations to feminism, Islamism and popular ideas about sexuality and morality. Focusing on representations of religious and ethnic minorities - primarily Copts, Jews, and Nubians - Shafik draws out issues such as the formation of the Egyptian nation, cinematic stereotyping, and political and social taboos. Shafik also considers pivotal genres, such as melodrama, realism, and action film, in relation to public debates over highbrow and lowbrow culture and in light of local and international film criticism.

About the Author

Viola Shafik studied cinema in Hamburg and is a freelance film scholar and filmmaker. She has directed several documentaries, including The Lemon Tree (1993), which was awarded the prize for best documentary short at the Images of the Arab World Festival in 1993. She is also the author of Arab Cinema: History and Cultural Identity (AUC Press, 1998; revised edition, 2007).

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Book Info

Publication date

15th March 2007


Viola Shafik

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The American University in Cairo Press


272 pages


Film theory & criticism



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