Egyptian Film "Chaos, Disorder" Snatches: The Jury Prize In Dubai

in 9th Dubai International Film Festival

by Tarek el-Shinnawi

The Egyptian film ”Chaos, Disorder” (”Harag W’ Marag”), directed by Nadine Khan, was awarded the Arab Film Competition jury’s prize at the Dubai International Film Festival. It is Khan’s feature debut, and hints at many aspects of rebellion against the established rules of Egyptian cinema.

It is no longer necessary that a director seeks protection from a production company that imposes its will on the film, or runs after a movie star who chooses only plots that suit his vision and conditions ideal for him. Now a new cinema has emerged which is not completely separate from the cinema of the ’80s generation of Egyptian film, which included directors Mohammad Khan, Khairy Beshara, Dawood Abdel Sayed and the late Atef Attayeb, but certainly it does not carry the same genes as it is a cinema with its own features, laws and relationship to the film market. This cinema has not worked for the masses so far but surely is gaining with each new experience a foothold on this ground.

It’s as if we were on the set where this film was made by Nadine Khan as it’s shot in accordance with the screenplay written by Mohamed Nasser. It dives into the world of slums with their moral, economic and psychological laws and is neither wholly a work of realism nor a film of pure fantasy, but includes depths of imagination.

Khan resorted to a narrator who sometimes tells and explains, and sometimes imagines. The sound is clear in some moments and in other moments dissolves into the sound of traffic.

Slums are still a fertile playground for what is coming from Egyptian film, seeming like another country bred on the outskirts of Cairo and waiting perhaps for a moment in time when they can impose their law on everyone and creep into focus. The vehicles come loaded with what those who are stranded in life are waiting for, like an umbilical cord connecting them to being people of this time but also living outside of time. Water supplies and candy, gas and glue are sent to them to help them to pursue their life. The law of force imposes itself on everyone. There is a big man to whom all are subjected and he himself feels the fear of scandal touch his door when he loses his mobile phone which has a picture on it of him with a married woman with whom he has had a relationship.  Physical relations form the features of the conflict; nothing is down to feelings. The physical need for control or sex is the only thing driving the motivations of the characters. The last football game, the peak that everyone is waiting for, plays out between two rivals – the heroes of the film. The first scene shows two kids surrounded by waste and snapping up plastic bottles from it. At that moment, they see a funeral, which pervades the scene and evokes farewell-bidding to the dead. We finish the final scene with this, as if their lives are like circles which start at the same point as they end.

The director is keen to maintain a psychological mood and general atmosphere through details such as the music developed by Hassan Khan and the way in which cinematographer Abdelsalam Moussa paints with lighting the mood of the place. Dina Farouk’s editing renders the flow of the place that makes up the spirit of the film and its organic and intellectual construction. The figures seem to enter and exit the fray on the ground on which the film plays out according to the law of the theater. This year, Egyptian cinema has been screened in every Gulf festival and we have seen new Egyptian filmmakers born: Hala Lotfy in Abu Dhabi for ”Coming Forth by Day” (”Al-khoroug lel-nahar”) and then Maggie Morgan in Doha for ”Asham: A Man Called Hope” (”Asham”) and now in Dubai Nadine Khan for ”Chaos, Disorder”. It’s a cinematic awakening and I do not say only a female one. It has emerged in Dubai to hold a reconciliation between the random bustle of hoopla and the discipline and sincerity of creativity.

Edited by Julie Rigg