ALFILM dedicates this year’s homage to the Alexandria-born set and costume designer and director Shadi Abdel Salam (1930-1986).
During his career in set and costume design Abdel Salam worked with renowned directors such as Youssef Chahine, Henri Barakat, Joseph Mankiewicz and Roberto Rossellini.
Despite his comparatively small body of work as a director, Abdel Salam went down in history as one of the best-known names in Egyptian film.
His masterpiece and only fully completed feature film The Night of Counting the Years (Al-Mummia) became a milestone in international cinema and is considered the best Egyptian movie of all times among many critics.
Abdel Salam believed in the necessity of linking the aspiring Egyptian modernity to the heritage of ancient Egyptian high culture – not only for the purpose of national community building but also as a self-imposed civilizational task. The old Egypt with its myths, religious beliefs and aesthetic concepts of art and architecture was Abdel Salams main source of inspiration for the whole of his creative work.
In 2009 Al Mummia was restored as a part of the “World Cinema Project” initiated by Martin Scorsese. Though the film rolls suffered from severe damage over the years due to incorrect storage methods, the restoration extensively retrieved the original cinematographic and compositional splendor.
The RETROSPECTIVE shows Al Mummia in its restored version among a visual showcase of Abdel Salam’s work.
This overview includes his important short films – produced during his time as the director of the Department for Experimental Film at the Documentary Film Centre in Cairo – and further offers an insight into the international milieu he influenced and was influenced by, taking the example of his collaboration with the renowned Polish filmmaker Jerzy Kawalerowicz.