Alexandria..Why? (Iskindereya..Leh?)

Film Screening

January, 25, 2020 | 18.00

In collaboration with Hind Mezaina, The Africa Institute is organizing a film program on Youssef Chahine’s semi-autobiographical Alexandria Trilogy. The Trilogy includes his films Iskindiria ... Leh? / Alexandria ... Why? (1978), Hadouta Masriya / An Egyptian Story (1982) and Iskendereya Kaman We Kaman / Alexandria Again and Forever (1989). The screening of the Alexandria Trilogy is an opportunity to examine Chahine's filmmaking career during the 70’s and 80’s and to compare them to his earlier films, in the context of his personal history and the social and historical settings of the films and Egypt and the Arab region at the time. The program will conclude with a panel discussion on the last day of screenings between scholar and filmmaker, Nezar Andary, and Hind Mezaina to share and discuss their thoughts and insights about the trilogy and Chahine's career as a filmmaker and storyteller.

All screenings will be held at Africa Hall on the following dates:

Saturday, January 25
Alexandria..Why? (Iskindereya..Leh?)
1978 | 120 min | Arabic with English subtitles

Saturday, February 8
An Egyptian Story (Hadouta Masriya)
1982 | 125 min | Arabic with English subtitles

Saturday, February 15
Alexandria Again And Forever (Iskendereya Kaman We Kaman)
1989 | 105 min | Arabic with English subtitles

Global Africa: The State of African Studies in the 21st Century

Director: Youssef Chahine
Year: 1978
Duration: 120 mins
Country: Egypt
Language: Arabic with English subtitles


Alexandria..Why? marked a radical, newly introspective turn in Chahine’s active career, a sharp departure from his Fifties musicals and melodramas and his later epics and political films. The first of a semi-autobiographical tetralogy, entitled “Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man,” Alexandria..Why? focuses on a precocious adolescent whose dreams and colorful attempts to become an actor unfold against the vivid backdrop of Alexandria during World War II. A rich cast inspires Chahine’s young thespian hero with a wealth of dramatic sub-plots – at turns hilarious and touching – about wartime life. The autobiographical nature and nostalgic flavour of Alexandria..Why? make it one of Chahine’s most accessible works, a charming and entertaining film that also delivers a potently subversive and impassioned anti-war message. (Harvard Film Archive)

About Youssef Chahine (1926 - 2008)

Youssef Chahine is widely considered the leading pioneer of film-making in Egypt and the Middle East. With a distinctive brand of cinema and a truth-seeking lens, Youssef Chahine has time and time again focused on intricate topics seldom discussed before in Egyptian cinema and never presented with such honesty. Since 1950, when he released his first film, and until his very last movie, Chahine’s lens has mirrored the upheavals in Egyptian society, from the British occupation, to the post-monarchical rule under Nasser, to the rise of political Islamism and the ever-changing relation between the Arab and Western worlds. At their core, his movies sought to connect with the world at large.

On the 25th of January of 1926, Chahine was born to a lawyer father of Lebanese descent and a Greek mother in Alexandria, a city that represented an ideal of fusions of creeds and cultures, and embraced amalgams between different ideologies and art movements, giving it its own unique character and a place at the forefront of theatre and film arts. As a son of this open maritime city, Chahine learnt early on about the rest of the world. This gave him a unique platform to penetrate the international film festivals circuit and quickly establish himself, amongst western critics, as one of the greatest film makers in the world.

About Hind Mezaina

Hind Mezaina is an artist, freelance writer and film programmer. She curates film screenings for Louvre Abu Dhabi and has programmed film screenings for Sharjah Art Foundation, NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery and National Pavilion UAE – La Biennale di Venezia. She is also the founder of and co-founded and co-hosts Tea with Culture podcast.

About Nezar Andary

Nezar Andary is a scholar and filmmaker based in Abu Dhabi. He edits a book series on Arab Cinema for Palgrave where he published a book entitled The Cinema of Muhammad Malas and completed a manuscript on the influence of Ibn Khaldun in Contemporary Global Culture. His feature film on the Opening the Doors of Cinema will be completed by early 2019. Previously, Andary conceived and directed the documentary theatre in 2016 Memories of Childhood the premiered in the Abu Dhabi Festival. He recently published on work of journalist Anthony Shadid and his relationship to creative non-fiction. Andary is published in journals like Alif, Banipal, Al-Jadid, Journal of Middle East Studies, Emergences, among others.

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