Akher ayam el madina [In the Last Days of the City] is an Arabic film from Egypt, made by Director Tamer El Said. The film was an immersive tour to the life in Cairo and the region – of people who choose to live and those who leave. It was exhibited online by Goethe Institute of Bangladesh.
The film follows a fictional Director Khalid (played by Khalid Abdalla) who is filming the life and soul of his city, Cairo. He doesn’t have a plan, he keeps shooting what he sees and hears in the city. There are no major dialogues explaining what he feels or does, we just go along with him on the journey and keep learning. Due to this nature of the screenplay, the film gives us a different feel. Along with Cairo, we see glimpses from everyday life of Beirut, Baghdad and Berlin sent to him by his friends who are filmmakers as well. Together with all this, we sense the difficulty of life in this region and the aspirations of the people. There is mostly pain but sprouts of happiness and hope too. Interesting cinematography as well, as we see not only what the camera sees but the narrator too in many places – in a way we become him in many places.
Khalid is looking for a house for rent, an agent takes him to various apartments in Cairo, as a result, we too get to follow them! We hear backstories of people who come into his life. Khalid has an ailing mother who tells the story of how she met his father and fell in love; later to lose their daughter in a car accident in Libya and that changing the couples life ever after. Khalid speaks with a famous voiceover artist about his father, a writer, but she hardly remembers anything about him due to her age. When the four friends from Cairo, Baghdad & Beirut are speaking over a drink we understand their love for their cities, the tragedies they have seen, but overall their yearning to share it through their films.
In Baghdad a mother tells her 9-year old daughter out to buy bread, please be careful not to step on the (dead) body at the street corner.
To keep us abreast of the political happenings in Egypt of 2009, Director uses the news broadcasts playing in the radio during the taxi rides that Khalid takes to different places. The film has a melancholic love story woven in as well to make it engaging. Watch this film if you get a chance, remember you need a boatload of patience as it proceeds pretty slow!