Egyptian film hopes to be liberated by revolution

Mon Apr 25, 2011 11:04pm EDT
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By Edith Honan

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Before a popular revolt ousted Egypt's autocratic president this year, it seemed certain that a film about the desperation of Cairo's poor would never reach the country's cinemas.

The director of "Cairo Exit," Hesham Issawi, said the film was banned after he refused to make changes requested by Egyptian censors and then shot scenes behind the backs of authorities.

But following a wave of demonstrations that swept President Hosni Mubarak from power on February 11, Issawi said he expected the ban to be lifted.

"Now, I think it will be different," he said in an interview following a screening of "Cairo Exit" at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York.

The film explores the sense of hopelessness that has driven Egyptians to emigrate, as well as the differences that have fragmented Egyptian society.

Filmed in Cairo one year before the 18-day uprising, it addresses some of the grievances that led to the uprising, Issawi said.

"During my time, people wanted to go to the States. That was the dream," said Issawi, who at 45 has lived in self-imposed exile in the United States for half his life.

"These last couple of years, everybody just wanted to get out. It didn't matter, rich class, poor class, they all just wanted to get out," he said. "It was like they just can't breathe."   Continued...

<p>Egyptian director of "Cairo Exit" Hesham Issawi (2nd R) poses with cast members on the red carpet during the closing ceremony of the 7th Dubai International Film Festival December 19, 2010. REUTERS/Jumana El Heloueh</p>