After suffering a brain hemorrhage several weeks ago, Egyptian filmmaker Youssef Chahine passed away on Sunday at the age of 82.
A.O. Scott at the New York Times:
Whether his subject was the domestic struggles of poor and middle-class Cairenes, his own youth in Alexandria, the building of the Aswan Dam or the life of the medieval philosopher Averroes, Mr. Chahine’s films reflected his cosmopolitan, humanistic sensibility, as well as his deep interest in Egyptian and Middle Eastern history and society.
In France, where Mr. Chahine’s films found an admiring audience, news of his death brought a tribute from the president, Nicolas Sarkozy. He described the director as “very attached to his Egypt but open to the universe” and said that he sought “to denounce censorship, fanaticism and fundamentalism.”
Sheila Whitaker at the Guardian notes that “[a]lthough he was highly regarded by European directors and a favourite at international festivals, commercial distribution for his films in the west – France excepted – remained limited, and his later work was often subjected to threats from fundamentalists within the Islamic community.” And Nick Bradshaw writes of how “Chahine continued to resist borders wherever the world raised them.”
[Photo: “Cairo Station,” 1958 – Arab Film Distribution]