Egypt, 2006, 172 minutes
Sun, May 6 / 02:00 / Kabuki / YACO06K
Wed, May 9 / 01:30 / Kabuki / YACO09K
Thu, May 10 / 07:00 / Kabuki / YACO10K
A luxury apartment building in central Cairo teems with tragicomic intrigue in Marwan Hamed’s dizzyingly ambitious feature debut, a multicharacter narrative equally attuned to soap opera theatrics and sobering realities. Residents of the titular dwelling—built in the ’30s to house VIPs from the upper echelons of Egypt’s social stratum and now chockablock with denizens of all backgrounds and rank—careen through each other’s daily dramas and are given plenty of room to develop over the course of the film’s leisurely yet tumultuous three hours. As dozens of characters and storylines intersect, we meet a panoply of Yacoubian inhabitants including a former aristocrat who longs for a vanished past, the son of the building doorman who is denied entrance into the police academy due to his social standing, a disillusioned young woman who works demeaning jobs to support her family, a flamboyantly gay newspaper editor whose sexuality is an open secret, a dashing soldier who yearns for sophistication while remaining true to his village-born wife, and a successful businessman who has risen from his roots as a shoeshine boy and aspires to political power. These and many other memorable characters, including the aristocrat’s ex-girlfriend whose beautiful rendition of "La Vie en Rose" colors the entire film with romantic longing, fatefully cross paths in a social milieu still straitjacketed by political corruption, patriarchal chauvinism, police brutality and religious hypocrisy. Taking on topics that are still taboo in much of his country, Hamed masterfully helms this sprawling epic, the biggest-budget Egyptian film to date, and directs a brilliant ensemble cast featuring many illustrious veterans of Arab cinema.
In Arabic with English subtitles. SKYY Prize Contender. Sponsored by RF Audio. Presented in association with the Arab Film Festival.