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Arts & Culture

Cairo Mediterranean Literary Festival: Literature & the Body

Cairo Mediterranean Literary Festival: Literature & the Body
    written by
    Cairo 360

    Having adopted a theme in each of its first two editions,
    this year’s Cairo Mediterranean Literary Festival looks at the relationship
    between literature and the body. Although parallels are difficult to
    immediately find, the human form has forever been celebrated, lamented,
    caricatured and portrayed in the most emphatic ways. We’re not talking fat,
    slim, tall, short – the CMLF promises to deliver the most complex and inspired
    approach to this most intricate of dichotomies.

    It’s often put forward that the body must be transcended to
    reach true creative autonomy. This year’s CMLF challenges this and proposes
    that the body in itself is just as critical to literature – in all its forms – as
    any verb, noun or object. The relationship between the physical, the emotional
    and the mental is more primitive than anyone cares to believe. You shout when
    you’re angry, cry when you’re moved; even cursing and swearing is tied to the

    The inaugural Thursday
    7th event takes form in a reading from Italian writer Tiziano
    Scarpa’s Corpo (The Body)
    at the
    Italian Cultural Institute in Zamalek. The book is collection of symbolic short
    stories about the writer’s own body parts.

    Another Italian, Fernanda Calati, will host a workshop on Friday 18th. As a singer and
    actress, Calati will explore the power of the voice. The British Council will
    host its first event of the festival that same day; a screening of 2005
    Egyptian film Dunia. The film
    explores the social challenges women face in Egypt through eponymous character
    Dunia as she struggles on the road of self-liberation.  The screening will be followed by a Q&A
    with the film’s Franco-Lebanese director, Jocelyne Saab.

    Film screenings will also take place at Baad El Bahr
    Cultural Association (BEBA), starting with 2011 French film, The Intouchables. Directed by Olivier
    Nakache and Eric Toledano, the film follows the relationship of a paraplegic
    aristocrat and his young delinquent carer. Italian film Un altro pianeto (One Day in a Life) follows. Stefano Tummolini’s
    2010 tale focuses on a man and his seductive encounter with three women and
    man, who becomes an object of his obsession.

    Saturday 19th
    opens with the Italian Cultural Institute inviting all for an open discussion
    on literature, the body, desires and influences
    as well as a performance by local hip-hop collective Asfalt. BEBA continues with its
    programme of film screenings, kicking off the evening with Francesca
    Archibugi’s 2008 film Quetsione di cuore
    (Stroke of Luck), which follows to men who strike up an unlikely friendship
    after both suffering heart attacks. Next on the agenda is a screening of short
    by Xavier Puigmarti; an artist who is no stranger to Cairo, having e
    exhibited his work here in the past. The evening will end with a screening of
    Spanish film Lo major de mi, Rose
    Agulair’s 2007 drama that questions the physical limits of love.

    Writer Simonetta Agnello Hornby will host an
    intriguing sounding lecture under the title of ‘Food, Body and Senses in
    at the Italian Cultural Institute on Sunday 20th
    before Spanish animal rights activist and author
    Maria Laura Espido
    speaks about her work at the Cervantes Institute. The
    French Institute will also host the opening of ‘The Body’s Memory’ an
    exhibition by Egyptian artist Marwa Adel.

    BEBA continues its film screenings with Abre los ojos (Open Your Eyes) a film that is most famous for being
    remade into Vanilla Sky starring Tom
    Cruise. The second of the screenings comes in the form of French film Une affaire de gout (A Matter of Taste)
    which follows the tumultuous relationship between a middle-aged businessman and
    a young waiter.

    closes the festival with several esteemed guests,
    including writer and filmmaker Alessandro Golinelli at the Italian Cultural
    Institute. Golinelli’s documentary Angels
    on Death Row: The Ebrahim Hamidi Case
    looks at capital punishment for
    presumed homosexuality in Iran. After the screening, Golinelli will discuss his
    new novel L’amore Semplicemente (Simply

    Over at the French Institute, writer Gilles Lipovetsky will give a
    lecture under the title of Le Scare de la Beaute Feminine (The Sacredness of
    the Feminine Beauty). BEBA will also screen Lanna Nasser’s
    performance piece In the Lost and Found –
    La Valise Rouge
    before showing two short films by Egyptian filmmakers
    Mahmoud Farag and Omar Khaled
    . The night is rounded off by a screening of 2009
    Spanish comedy Gordos (Fat People).