Legendary film critic Samir Farid; a spark in Egyptian cinema

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Sun, 10 Dec 2017 - 08:35 GMT

FILE - Writer and film critic Samir Farid

FILE - Writer and film critic Samir Farid

CAIRO – 10 December 2017: It is not customary to honor a movie critic with a prize in a film festival, but Samir Farid is the exception.

Work as a critic in the film industry is difficult; pointing out the shortcomings in anyone’s hard work is not a way to make friends. So the recognition of Farid’s work through the honorary prize of the 39th Cairo International Film Festival is a testament to his effect on the industry.

Samir Farid considered criticism a way to discover cinema, its language and its nature. He was in love with cinema; his criticism of films reflects his method to experience cinema and life.

Farid published over 60 books, most of which are about Egyptian cinema. Hollywood’s films usually didn’t capture his imagination quite like Egyptian films did, so he focused his work on the subject of cinema and politics in Egypt and how intellectual leaders such Youssef Chahine and Naguib Mahfouz dealt with these issues.

Samir was not only interested in the theory and execution of cinema but also its history and preservation. He aimed to understand the medium and its role in Egypt; he was the first to take an intellectual look at its evolution over the decades in his essay the “Six Generations of Egyptian Cinema”. He took it upon himself to archive about 5,000 Egyptian and Arab films to preserve Middle Eastern cinematic history for future generations; he made the cinematic memory of the region available to everyone.

The death of Samir Farid in February 2017 left a vacuum in his wake. He was not a just a critic but an institution. He founded festivals, created the associations of Arab and of Egyptian film critics, edited magazines, translated and published books and headed the CIFF in 2014.

By honoring Samir Farid in Cairo International Film Festival, we are rewarding a figure that has dedicated his heart and mind to Egyptian cinema.

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