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Tips from the culture desk: Books, art, more film and a party
Mada One

Cairo’s film lovers might be flagging at this point, but the intense glut of interesting films flooding the city definitely hasn’t dried up yet. Add to that a promising art exhibition and a tempting book fair, and culture consumers have another satisfying week coming up in Cairo. Not to mention our very own second birthday party, which will mark not only two and a half years of our existence but also a brand new website with a truly electric musical line-up.

A Season in Hell – opens Wednesday

For a second time, Gypsum Gallery’s Aleya Hamza takes the exciting move of giving the reins to two artists to create a group exhibition. While June’s 11-artist What are you doing, object? (curated by Nile Sunset Annex) focused on sculpture, the eight-artist A Season in Hell (conceived by Amr Kafrawy and Hany Rashed) revolves around painting and drawing. Named after a 1873 poem by Arthur Rimbaud, it promises the dark, the hallucinatory and the absurd.

The show contains works by Kafrawy and Rashed as well as by Gypsum’s own Doa Aly and Basim Magdy. Nada Baraka, Rania Fouad, Ahmed Sabry and Marwa El Shazly are also involved. Most of these artists (Rashed, Kafrawy, Sabry, Baraka and Shazly) are more associated with downtown’s much older Mashrabia Gallery and with state-run exhibitions than the non-profit, more international-oriented background of Hamza. The result should definitely be worth checking out.

Gypsum show.jpg

Gypsum show

Opens December 9 at 7 pm, then daily 12 to 8 pm (Fridays 4 to 8 pm, Sundays off) until January 20. 5 Ibrahim Naguib Street, 1st floor, Garden City, Cairo.

Cairo Video Festival – opens Thursday

After an exciting month of cinema thanks to the Cairo Film Festival and the Panorama of the European Film (which ends today), Medrar for Contemporary Art brings to Cairo two weeks’ worth of daily screenings of video art and experimental film from all over the world. In its seventh edition since its inception in 2005, the Cairo Video Festival offers two looped-video exhibitions at Medrar and the Contemporary Image Collective running for the duration, along with almost daily screening programs at Zawya and the French Institute.

Increasing huge in recent years – sometimes to the point of unwieldy – this year the festival includes works by 116 artists from 38 countries in the official selection, which was picked from hundreds of submissions by the festival’s jury (Hala Elkoussy, Mia Jankowicz and Morten Dysgaard). There is also a more manageable and enticing selection of 24 films curated by Medrar’s team which includes films by strong local artists and filmmakers such as Ahmed Shawky, Ahmed Ghoneimy and Malak Helmy, as well as  internationally acclaimed artists such as Jumana Manna, Marina Abramović, Adel Abidin and Vincent Borcard. Watch out for our daily festival blog by Nour El Safoury.

Opening program December 10 at Zawya at 7.30 pm. For the full program, running through December 25, visit Medrar’s website. Facebook updates here.

Dinner at the Movies – Thursday

Neighbors Cimatheque and Eish & Malh, a cafe with an unusually beautiful and spacious space, have collaborated to create a curious evening of short films and food. A four-course dinner menu has been devised specifically in relation to the films, which include Egyptian commercials and newsreels and go all the way back to Marie-Georges-Jean Méliès’s The Cook’s Revenge (1900) and Buster Keaton’s The Cook (1918). This event might well be a winner.  

The Cook.jpg

The Cook

December 10, 8.30 to 10.30 pm, at 10 Adly Street, downtown Cairo. To reserve a table call 01098744014 or send Eish & Malh a message on Facebook, which is where the program and menu should be announced shortly. 

AUC Tahrir Book Fair – starts Friday

If you’re looking to stock up on books, this might be a good chance. The American University in Cairo’s Tahrir Book Fair, organized by the AUC bookstore, offers a 20 percent discount on all books (mostly English-language) through several booths distributed around downtown campus. Prices start from LE10, and the options are broad: fiction, cookery books, textbooks, or gift books for Christmas. There’s another special offer: With each LE200 purchase AUC Press is cleverly giving away a LE50 voucher that can be redeemed from its booth during the 47th Cairo International Book Fair in January/February.

AUC Tahrir Campus Store, Tahrir Square (entrances on Mohamed Mahmoud Street and Qasr al-Aini), downtown Cairo. December 11-13, 10 am – 6 pm.

Mada 2.0 Birthday Party – Friday

Forgive us for briefly blowing our own trumpet, but if there were ever a right moment this seems like the right one. It’s our belated second birthday (we’ve actually been around since June 30, 2013), and perhaps more impactfully, we’re finally about to launch our 2.0 website, which will make us much more user-friendly, easy on the eye, organized in terms of content, and broad in terms of content types.

The headline act for this momentous occasion has to be Maurice Louca, for whom Bashar Farran (bass) and Khyam Allami (drums) have flown in to accompany. Before that, of course, we have a DJ set from our very own Habiba, and afterwards a closing set from $$$TAG$$$ of VENT fame. Also visuals from Kareem Osman and, and a couple of extra treats from the Mada team. There’ll be some Mada merchandise (mugs with cartoons by Andeel, for example) to buy if you’re interested.

Swiss Club Garden, Villa Pax, 90 Gihad Street off Sudan Street, Kitkat, Cairo. December 11, 6:30 pm – midnight. Tickets (on the door, first-come first-served) are LE100 but include a drink and it’s a good cause. Facebook event here.