Still from 'Mercedes', March 10, 2018 – cimathe/Facebook
CAIRO – 19 March 2018: Egyptian director Yousrey Nasrallah's bizarre comedy film "Mercedes" will screen at Cimatheque – Alternative Film Centre on Sunday, March 18, and again on Tuesday, March 20, 2018.
Released in 1993, this oddball comedy explores the political and social climate of Egypt in the 90s, shining a satirical light on the nation's many odd subcultures. The film's protagonist is Noubi (Zaki Fateen Abdel Wahab), an Egyptian from a wealthy family who was born with blonde hair.
Noubi harbors communist beliefs and rejects a Mercedes Benz gift, a fact which causes his mother Afifa (Youssra) great grief, especially in the wake of the Soviet Union's fall. She has him sent to an asylum to get treated for communist sympathy; though after he leaves, Noubi discovers he has inherited part of his father's fortune, which he plans to donate to a communist group.
Things get even stranger when Noubi discovers that his half-brother Gamal (Magdy Kamel) has vanished after receiving his fortune. He journeys across all of Egypt to find him, where he encounters a wide variety of strange people, from belly-dancers and football fanatics to the Islamic fundamentalists who hate them both. "Mercedes" was not received well in Egypt shortly after its release, but in time the film grew to become a cult classic, adored for its outrageous and bizarre sense of humor.
The movie's cast also included Taheya Cariocca, Seif Abdel Rahman, Abla Kamel and Bassem Samra.
Director Nasrallah was born in 1952 in Cairo, originally studying economics before deciding to move on to film; he studied at the Higher Institute for Cinema in Cairo in 1973. He started off as a critic for the Lebanese newspaper Al-Safeer before becoming an assistant director, where he worked on projects such as "Farewell Bonaparte" (Wada’an Bonaparte). His first full-length movie was 1988's "Summer Thefts" (Sariqat Sayfiah), based on his life growing up in a wealthy Coptic family, with "Mercedes" being his second.
Cimatheque, launched in 2012, is a space made for those who love the diversity of Cinema. Apart from its film screenings, which showcase films from all across the world, Cimatheque offers specialized workshops, a library, an archive for moving images and even a lab for super 8mm and 16mm analogue films.