A Closer Look at Cairo in African Art Film Screening

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For those who have been taken in by the drama this past week in Egypt, the National Museum of African Art tonight pays fitting homage this evening in its screening of the Canadian film Cairo Time, the first film of its month-long North African Film Festival.

Written and directed by the internationally and critically acclaimed Ruba Nadda, Cairo Time debuted in the Toronto International Film Festival in 2009, where it won “Best Canadian Feature Film.”

Cairo Time is a quiet but thrilling story about Juliette, a Canadian woman who travels to Egypt to spend time with her husband, a United Nations official in Gaza. Alone in her hotel room and unwilling to sit patiently waiting for her husband’s delayed arrival, Juliette ventures out on her own but is immediately overwhelmed by the city’s oppressive heat, confusing traffic and unbearable noise. A long time friend of her husband’s, Tareq, has been instructed to escort her until her spouse's arrival but ultimately shows her the heart and soul of this ancient city: its people and their passions.

The Toronto-based director Ruba Nadda described the historical city as a place that forces the visitor to slow down and to just enjoy the day. “I wanted to capture the authenticity of Cairo," she said.

Nadda said she fell in love with the city when she was 16, but it was the people that made her want to keep coming back. "You will never meet more hospitable, kind people," she said.

Nadda will be moderating the screening of this film this evening and lead a discussion afterwards.

Jessica Martinez, education specialist at the National Museum of African Art, said that viewers will be treated to a fascinating contrast from the historic sites set as backdrops in Cairo Time and how we've seen these places as sites for major demonstrations over the past week.  She expects the film festival to provide a forum for people to "talk about perceptions of North Africa based on personal experience or watching a movie."

The North African Film Festival continues every Thursday night in February at 7 p.m. at the National Museum of African Art's lecture hall.  The films to be screened are Raja, a French/Moroccan film, Bab’Aziz: The Prince Who Contemplated His Soul, a Tunisian film, and Outside the Law (Hors la loi), an Algerian film currently nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards.

UPDATE: Due to demand,the opening film of the North African Film Festival 2011 will be in the Ripley Center, 3rd Floor.

For more information on this film and the North African Film festival, please visit http://www.africa.si.edu.

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