Chahine interview

Via Fustat, there is a nice interview of Youssef Chahine on Qantara. I thought this exchange was interesting:

Do you believe that the United States or France would help "Kifaya" like they supported the opposition movement in Lebanon?

Chahine: No. The U.S. is helping Mr. Mubarak. They put him there. He is one of their stooges. He always blackmails them: "It's either me or the Islamists." They prefer him.

As far as culture is concerned, you used to be much closer to the Americans.

Chahine: I used to be crazy about them. I studied in Pasadena.

Has your attitude changed?

Chahine: There's a rupture because I am sick of what they are doing. Not only in Iraq, even with me.

In my last film, I wanted little bits of American musicals of the 40ies. I wanted some with Frank Sinatra. They said "Ok, we want two million dollars". I said: "If I am doing this I am honouring the American cinema." They didn't give a shit, they just wanted the money.

Is this rupture only political or does it also have a cultural side?

Chahine: I still like the American culture. They are very inventive, they always do new things. But the basic philosophy of a very, very savage capitalism makes them very violent. The films prove to what extent they have become violent.

Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region,