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Global Movie Day: Films about Loving Films

Alexandria...why? Baheb el Cima Cinema Paradiso Pain and Glory
Global Movie Day: Films about Loving Films
written by
Nada Medhat

A few years ago, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science established Global Movie Day to celebrate cinema. It’s held every year on the second Saturday of February, which was yesterday.

To some, cinema is escapism, but to others, it’s the first and most profound love. Be it a simple joy at the end of a tiring day or a complex, long relationship, cinema has its place in all of our lives. We celebrate it today by recommending four movies whose protagonists try to understand life through their love for cinema. 

Cinema Paradiso (1988)

The patron-saint for this list! Cinema Paradiso is essentially an ode to cinema. It’s the original and most well-known in this metatextual series of films about deeply loving films. Salvatore, a famous filmmaker, recalls his childhood when he first fell in love with moving pictures and formed a profound friendship with his town’s cinema’s projectionist. Funny, emotional, and powerful; it’ll have you feeling nostalgic for a time that never was.

Check the trailer here

Baheb el Cima (I love Cinema, 2004)

One of Egypt’s best cinematic gems, Baheb el Cima evoked controversy when it was first released but was still regarded favourably by both the audience and the critics. Cinema here is the beloved and also the mirror reflecting the depths of Egyptian society in the 60s (ironically, what the film itself achieves). The story follows a young boy from an orthodox Christian family who found his deepest love for cinema but struggles with his fanatic father, who’s terrified of hell and believes everything in life, including cinema and art, is a sinful highway to it. 

You can watch the full movie here.  

Pain and Glory (Dolor y Gloria, 2019)

The camera is a director’s eye through which he sees life. Subtler than the others, the Spanish feature, likely semi-autobiographical, follows an ageing film director as he looks back on his life through the lens of cinema. The director stops writing and making films due to some physical and mental issues. Unable to neither write nor move on, he stops to look at his life: his early childhood, his mother, the people he loved and who loved him. Poetically, art is the vehicle that carried him through his pain, and the line is often blurred between it and life. The last scene depicts the director recreating a scene from his childhood on film. To a man whose life has operated through films, the continuation of cinema is the continuation of life. Be it painful or glorious. Or, indeed, both.

Check the trailer here.

Alexandria…why? (Eskendria…lih? 1979)

Also introducing autobiographical elements, Chahine’s masterpiece follows a young Alexandrian man whose choice of escapism is American cinema. Through his love for the art form, Yehia tries to grasp life: both dreams of Hollywood and the reality of war and pain. A portrait of an artist whose life is a violent, if not beautiful, clash of cinema and reality.

Check the trailer here