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Arts & Culture

Ramadan Film Festival: Independent Film Screenings at Darb 17 18

Ramadan Film Festival: Independent Film Screenings at Darb 17 18
written by
Heba El-Sherif

Much of
what fasters bemoan about their habits in Ramadan is the few hours after fetar
when they turn into sedentary slobs, sedately coiled into one corner of the
couch, shuffling channels launched solely for their entertainment during the
holy month.  

As of
today, Darb17 18 invites you to shrug this habit off.  The cultural hideaway in Fustat is
hosting a film festival that will run through August 8th till August 24th, showcasing
a catalogue of independent, low-budget films on both Mondays and Wednesdays.

Cinema El
Fourn, Darb’s outdoor movie theatre, was named after an
old pottery kiln, which in Arabic
means fourn, that stood in the middle
of the then unused grassy area. No longer kilning pots, the local fourn made
room for brightly coloured beanbags and a few dozen chairs, attracting film
enthusiasts from around Cairo since its opening early last year.

Screening tonight is Marc
Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Delicatessen
(1991), the ingenious story of an ex-clown in love with his employer’s daughter,
a butcher who savours humans over food. According
to one film critic, ‘
Delicatessen welds
comedy and magic into a bizarre, grotesque fantasy of an oddball dystopian

Screening on August 10th, Lost in La Mancha (2002) is a unique documentary that chronicles
the seemingly unavoidable demise of director Terry Gilliam’s film adaptation of
the novel Don
Quixote. The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, as it would have been called, was met with
one grave problem after another; injuries to actors, floods and much more
eventually shut down the production, which would have featured Johnny Depp. The
documentary parallels Gilliam’s efforts to that of Don
Quixote’s pursuit of being a hero.

The line-up continues on August 15th, and 
includes an equally offbeat Austrian thriller titled Funny Games (1997);
a psychological thriller that chronicles the tale of
an affluent German family forced into participating in sadistic games to stay
alive after their trip is hijacked and they are held hostage by two men. The film alternates between fiction and
reality, with the fourth wall consistently broken as one of its characters,
Paul, often looks at and gestures into the camera in acknowledgment of the audience.

English-American director Christopher Nolan’s independent debut
feature Following (1998) will also be
screened on August 17th. The film follows a non-linear
narrative, a character of Nolan. The director went on to make classics such as Memento, The Dark Knight and Inception.
Following depicts the life of a
struggling writer named Bill as he shadows people around London for
inspiration. When he stumbles into the
life of a criminal, Cobb, Bill ends up embroiled in his lawless choices.   

Boy (2010) tells the
story of a young boy’s quirky life of in New Zealand, 1985. Living on a farm
with his grandmother, younger brother and several cousins, Boy –as he’s
referred to- is obsessed with Michael Jackson, and projects that idolism onto
his AWOL father who comes back into his life without warning. Boy quickly finds
out however, that his Father is nothing more than an inept
hooligan, as he tries to make sense of his young
life. The film will be shown on August 22nd.

festival comes to a close on August 24th with Wall (2004),
an American documentary that looks at the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through
the parallel worlds created by the separation wall, a personal journey of its
director Simone Bitton, herself an Arab Jew.

So if you
have some hours to kill after breaking your fast; avoid the couch and drive out
to Darb 17 18 for a breezy evening of quality films and good company.