Translated Text from Arabia Net
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In Fatwa against Movie Filmed in Cairo-San Francisco,
Religious Authorities Call for All My Life to be Burned
Egyptian Movie about Lives of Perverts Takes Part in LGBT International Film Festival
Cairo – Mustafa Soliman The Egyptian Underground Film Society (EUFS) has announced the world premiere of its first production, All My Life, at Frameline 32, The San Francisco International Film Festival for Perverts, June 19-29, 2008, the world’s oldest and largest film festival for what is known as LGBTQ.
Religious and social agents have warned against the new film; ex-Egyptian Mufti, Sheikh Nasr Fareed Wasel, called for it to be burned, while the anti-AIDS program director called the new film a “painful blow” to its efforts.
All My Life, directed by the head of the organization, Maher Sabry, is about the lives of some gay men and the problems they face, described as “persecution and discrimination” , particularly in the wake of the 2001 witch-hunts against them, the most famous being the Queen Boat case, in which 52 homosexuals were arrested and tried in Egyptian national security courts.
According to the EUFS’ press release, the movie was filmed in Cairo and San Francisco “against all odds”, especially as it took three years to finish with no budget, depending on volunteer work and the assistance of the community. The cast and crew of the movie filmed in the street and in their own homes, also doubling as key grips, boom operators, set builders and refreshment servers.
In an interview with Arabiya.Net, the movie’s director, Maher Sabry, explained that all the Egyptian scenes were shot guerrilla-style due to government restrictions on street filming.
The movie is about Rami, a young man who suffers after his ‘lover’ Waleed leaves him to marry his friend Dalia. For the first time, the movie contains sex scenes between perverts.
Certain the film will never be screened in Egypt, the director is betting on video piracy to spread his movie, saying the festivals will find the movie in the streets with all the other banned movies.
According to Sabry, who also wrote the script, “artists have become increasingly unable to tackle a number of subjects that were dealt with in Egyptian cinema in the past.” He illustrates this with an example: “Last year, following the screening of Egyptian film The Yacoubian Building, one-quarter of the members of the Egyptian Parliament signed a petition demanding the removal of the scenes portraying the only homosexual character in the film. And yet, the director was more conservative in his portrayal of the gay character in Yacoubian than in the movie The Malatili Bathhouse in 1973, in the Seventies.
Director/screenwriter Maher Sabry was the first director to portray gay and lesbian love on stage. He started his work as an activist for Egyptian gay rights, and was the first to discover the notorious Queen Boat arrests of 2001 and help its victims. He was awarded the Felipa de Souza Award, in 2002, from the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC).
Social and Religious Disapproval
Dr Nasr Fareed Wasel, the ex-Mufti of Egypt, called for a halt to the screenings, and that the film be “burned immediately”. In an interview with Arabiya.net, he stated that “these films are the gateway to debauchery, to committing that forbidden by Allah and propagate deviant social behaviors.”
“Allah has declared perversion a sin,” he continued, “and Islamic law has imposed harsh penalties upon homosexuals because this is not a disease as the West would have us believe; rather, it is a detestable, diabolical behavior that distances human beings from their natural creation, the instinct that Allah has placed instinctively in him.”
He emphasized the need to “combat these behaviors with more religious, cultural and social awareness, so as to protect our children from this sin, and these trying evils.”
In his turn, Dr Zein el-Abedeen, Head of the Anti-AIDS Program in Egypt, described the film as “a painful blow to all the efforts we are making to combat of HIV.” He added, “Unnatural sexual practices are second only to blood transfusions as probable causes for infection with this disease.”
He added, “We warn people against these practices, then along comes a film like this. Even though it will not be shown on Egyptian screens, there are certainly foreign organizations that will work towards making it available on the Internet, and because most people online are young men, we will find ourselves confronted with a catastrophe with serious repercussions.”
A Critical View
Commenting on the film, Magda Khairallah, a writer and film critic, said to Arabiya.net, that there is nothing to stop the cinema exploring social issues or phenomena; “but the issue is how such problems are presented and dealt with in a manner suited to Egyptian society, where I think the ratio of perversion is extremely small compared to other societies.”
Khairallah affirmed that she had not read the script in order to be able to form an artistic judgment; however, she affirmed that inclusion of explicit sex scenes was “unacceptable and dangerous. As long as the director is convinced that the film is not going to be shown in Egypt, and that he made it for self-gratification, that’s his own business, and we can’t comment on it because that makes it like any of the digital downloads available on the Internet.”
The Egyptian critic refuses to generalize on the exploitation of the underground cinema phenomenon for social deviance, affirming that these films are not that bad, “and some of them are very important, like Ain Shams, which was produced without any heroes [sic] or stars.”