Kris Rothstein's Blog

VIFF: Alexandria unplugged

Kris Rothstein

Microphone Ahmad Abdalla’s first film, Heliopolis, and features some of the same themes and trappings – exploring a city, the crumbling past, an abundance of characters, a slim plot and filmmakers making a documentary within the film. In some ways I wish he’d been more original, but the material was actually put to much better use in Microphone so I'm also glad he did it.

The film is about Khaled, who has moved back to Egypt from the West. His timing is terrible though as the girl he’d like to get back together with has just worked up the courage to move to London. He becomes involved in the lives of the artistic underground of Alexandria: hip hop groups, graffiti artists, young skateboarders and people generally not towing the party line. He hopes his position in an arts organization will allow him to give them support or at least gather them together for a concert.

The cacophony of the streets and the setting by the ocean really brings an idea of the city to life. This is quite a political film but it has a subtle touch. The girls in the punk band Mascara perform with masks because their families don’t know what they do and wouldn’t allow it. The main bureaucrat is a slippery hypocrite, indicative of everyone getting ahead in this society which seems to have no place for these young artists. My favourite part was when Khaled spots one singer saving a little fish from the market and later setting it free into the sea.




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