Crash course in Egyptian cinema: Cinematology episode 1

Mada Masr has teamed up with YouTube series Cinematology to publish subtitled video essays on appreciation of Egyptian cinema twice a month.

In 2015, young Egyptian mechanical engineer-turned director Mohamed Abu Soliman started publishing short opinionated video essays exploring Egyptian cinema and the filmmakers behind it.

The first episode — on Youssef Chahine’s image composition and camera work — has been watched over 5000 times and opened several conversations on film appreciation on YouTube and Facebook.

“I felt like I needed to create something to remind people how great our cinema is,” Soliman tells Mada Masr, “and that each episode could be a crash course in filmmaking.”

He didn’t originally plan Cinematology as a series, but decided to keep going due to the amount of positive feedback he received. He has published seven video essays so far, and more than 12,000 people follow the Facebook page.

Each video essay is under 10 minutes long and filled with footage from films, quirky energetic narration in Arabic and insights into cinematic technique, filmmakers’ biographies and the historical context of making films in Egypt. Some analyze a specific characteristic of a director’s work, others focus on one film, and some simply use film clips to construct a visual profile of a film industry figure.

Soliman uses the Cinematology Facebook page to share these videos, as well as articles and video essays on filmmaking from all over the world. This content keeps the page active, as he creates the Cinematology videos on his own and each one takes weeks to plan and produce alongside his full-time job as a filmmaker and producer for television.

“It’s a lot of work. But I love cinema. I love these directors and I love analyzing films and sharing this analysis with others,” he says. “You don’t have to go to the Cinema Institute to learn to be a director. That model is outdated – you don’t need it anymore – especially with digital films and the independent filmmaking scene.”

Soliman hopes the Cinematology series will not only help emerging filmmakers, but will also help viewers develop their visual literacy. “Once you understand the grammar of this art form,” he says, “you start to unlock a lot of messages, and hidden meanings.”

With translator Amira Elmasry, Mada Masr is creating English subtitles for Cinematology episodes and republishing them every other Wednesday, starting with the first, below.


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