The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

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.