In the Last Days of the City (Akher Ayam El Madina). 2016. Egypt/Germany/UK/United Arab Emirates. Directed by Tamer El Said. In Arabic; English subtitles. 118 min.
This film within a film is a haunting yet lyric chronicle of recent years in the Arab world, where revolutions seemed to spark hope for change and yield further instability in one stroke. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Khalid Abdalla (The Kite Runner, The Square) plays the protagonist of Tamer El Said’s ambitious feature debut, a filmmaker in Cairo attempting to capture the zeitgeist of his city as the world changes around him—from personal love and loss to the fall of the Mubarak regime. Throughout, friends send footage and stories from Berlin, Baghdad, and Beirut, creating a powerful, multilayered meditation on togetherness, the tactile hold of cities, and the meaning of homeland. Shot in 2008 and completed this year, the film explores the weight of the cinematic image as record and storytelling in an ongoing time of change.