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by Tiffany Pritchard
Egyptian writer/director Abu Bakr (A.B.) Shawky and his filmmaking and real-life partner Egyptian producer Dina Emam made an impact weeks before their first feature, Yomeddine, even screened in Cannes. Theirs is the rare first-time feature to screen in what is most certainly the most prestigious launchpad for any movie: the festival’s Main Competition. Meaning “Day of Judgment” in Arabic, the film centers around a man with leprosy (Rady Gamal, “Beshay”) who goes in search of his family across Egypt with all of his possessions loaded on a donkey. Together with a young orphaned boy (Ahmed Abdelhafiz, “Obama”), the two fend off expected and unexpected travails along the way, while also meeting accepting individuals who judge them for their character and not for their appearance. Indeed, Yomeddine focuses less on some of the traditional road movie tropes in favor of natural, tender exchanges between the talented two lead actors — character work that emphasizes the film’s main theme, suggested by the title and underscored when one character says to Beshay, “One day we will all be equal.”
Shawky - Emam - Ties - New - York
Made for under $500,000, both Shawky and Emam are grateful for their ties to the New York independent film community. Shawky is a recent masters graduate of NYU Tisch School of the Arts and Emam a graduate of Columbia’s Master’s Program in Film and Media Studies. The film was initially supported by NYU’s Richard Vague Production Fund, followed by postproduction support from the Tribeca Film Institute and, again, NYU. The crew was also split between Egyptian and New York-based members, including friends and NYU alumni DP Federico Cesca (Patti Cake$) and production designer Laura Moss, who was also one of Filmmaker’s 25 New Faces last year.
Initially inspired by Shawky’s undergrad short doc, the narrative feature has taken a gruelling ten years to...
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