Cinematology 4: On the daringly experimental nature of Hussein Kamal films

This subtitled Cinematology episode focuses on the work of boundary-breaking Egyptian director Hussein Kamal, paying a special attention to his experimentation in the spirit of French New Wave cinema.

Cinematology creator Mohamed Abu Soliman says he chose to look particularly at Kamal’s Tharthara Fawq al-Nil (Adrift on the Nile, 1971), telling Mada Masr that “There’s been nothing like it or even close to it since.”

It was that film that prompted Abu Soliman to explore Kamal’s oeuvre and discover that it seems to embody the global zeitgeist in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

“It was a time of liberation of thought, when youthful ideas were challenging the old mentalities,” he says. “And if you take a journey through Kamal’s films you get transported in time back to that era and spirit.”

“Even though the film was released in 1971, Naguib Mahfouz wrote the novel back in 1966 and it foresaw where the country was heading,” he says. “The film stands up in every sense — politically, socially, aesthetically.”

“It’s become the story of all Egypt’s young people,” Hessen Hossam has written about the film for Mada Masr.

In February, we teamed up with YouTube series Cinematology and translator Amira Elmasry to publish short English-subtitled video essays on Egyptian cinema every other Wednesday. This is the fourth episode. (Click “cc” for the subtitles.)


You have a right to access accurate information, be stimulated by innovative and nuanced reporting, and be moved by compelling storytelling.

Subscribe now to become part of the growing community of members who help us maintain our editorial independence.
Know more

Join us

Your support is the only way to ensure independent,
progressive journalism