Doha Film Institute is delighted to present ‘Watching the Classics’, an online programme where filmmakers and cinephiles can deepen their knowledge of film history. Presented by renowned scholar Richard Peña—Professor of Film Studies at Columbia University and Director Emeritus of the New York Film Festival—this series of lectures/discussions each focuses on an undisputed world cinema classic.
In the monthly sessions, Professor Peña will present a given film within its aesthetic, economic, technological and social/political context, detailing each director’s formal techniques while teasing out the implications of these artistic and technical decisions.
To get the most from the programme, participants are recommended to view the films before each session, and all are readily available through various popular streaming services. After registering, participants in Qatar may request an appointment to view the featured film at DFI offices by emailing [email protected].
During the lecture, select images and clips will be included for discussion, and participants will be able to send Professor Peña questions, which will be addressed at the end of each session.
Director: Youssef Chahine
Egypt / Egyptian Arabic / 1958 / 77 mins
Much as Mexico dominated the Spanish-language cinema, the Egyptian cinema was the cinematic centre of the Arab-language region. Needing to make a “one size fits all” cinema that would appeal to Arab speakers from Morocco to Iraq, the films generally featured standard, almost mythic stories—poor girl gets adopted into a rich family, or vice-versa—with a heavy helping of singing and dancing supplied by well-known stars from Radio Cairo. Yet breaking from this pattern was Youssef Chahine’s ‘Cairo Station’. Heavily influenced by both Italian Neorealism and American psychological thrillers, Chahine created a revealing portrait of a fast-changing Egypt, focusing on one day in the lives of the workers and travellers congregated around the capital’s main train station. The presence of box office star Hind Rostom guaranteed the film would get financed, and she delivers a searing, unforgettable performance, matched only by Chahine’s own portrayal of the crippled newspaper seller Qinawi.
This programme is open to applicants over the age of 18. The sessions are best suited for those with some knowledge of filmmaking and who wish to expand their understanding of film history.
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