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Rare behind the scenes of Egyptian film dating back to the 20th century



Dubai, United Arab Emirates (CNN) – For decades, ancient Egyptian film has always been loved by the majority of people, especially when it combines elements of drama, comedy and romance.

Of course, people only watch what happens in front of the lens in these Egyptian movies. But the “Akasa” Center for Photography at New York University Abu Dhabi shows a collection of photographs by Egyptian writer and film critic Farid Samir, which is also an opportunity to reveal what is happening behind the scenes.

Rare images of Egyptian film dating from the 20th century
Credit: Samir Farid Collection, Akkasah: Center for Photography, AD_MC_011_ref69

This is a group of negative images that were produced during the 20th century, because they reflect the images of the actors while they were on stage. There are also many images that give behind the scenes glimpses of Egyptian films.

Rare images of Egyptian film dating from the 20th century
Credit: Samir Farid Collection, Akkasah: Center for Photography, AD_MC_011_ref69

Jonathan Bohr, archive assistant at the Akkasah Center, explained that these photos document the studios and locations where the films were shot and reveal much about the methods and equipment used in the production.

Although the films shown in the photography collection are from the 1960s and 1970s, the images currently numbered on Akkasa’s website range from 1943 to 1960.

Rare images of Egyptian film dating from the 20th century
Credit: Samir Farid Collection, Akkasah: Center for Photography, AD_MC_011_ref54

Akasah currently owns the entire photo collection, which was purchased directly from Samir Farid in 2015. The oldest images in the collection date back to 1937 and are from a movie called “Layla the Desert Girl”.

Rare images of Egyptian film dating from the 20th century
Credit: Samir Farid Collection, Akkasah: Center for Photography, AD_MC_011_ref43

It is reported that Farid has authored and translated more than 60 books since 1966 on Egyptian, Arabic and international film. He died in 2017, leaving behind a “majestic legacy” of work associated with Egyptian film.

“The images from this group allow the viewer to appreciate the details and care shown in fashion, design, cosmetics and screenings of Egyptian film,” Pour said in an interview with CNN in Arabic.

Rare images of Egyptian film dating from the 20th century
Credit: Samir Farid Collection, Akkasah: Center for Photography, AD_MC_011_ref28

He added: “We have made every effort to use modern digital methods to present images in the best possible condition.” There are approximately 3,300 negative images in Samir Farid’s collection, of which 615 are available online through the Akkasah Center website.

Rare images of Egyptian film dating from the 20th century
Credit: Samir Farid Collection, Akkasah: Center for Photography, AD_MC_011_ref114

Bohr noted that digitizing many negative images requires great care not to be harmed. Unfortunately, some are so damaged that they cannot be digitized without being destroyed.

But “We are fortunate that the majority of it will be preserved securely digitally over time,” says the archive assistant at Akkasa.


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