in the last days of the city

/Tamer El Said

still from IN THE LAST DAYS OF THE CITY aka Akher Ayam El Madina, a film by TAMER EL SAID.

synopsis

Downtown Cairo, 2009. Khalid, a 35 year old filmmaker is struggling to make a film that captures the soul of his city while facing loss in his own life. With the help of his friends, who send him footage from their lives in Beirut, Baghdad and Berlin, he finds the strength to keep going through the difficulty and beauty of living IN THE LAST DAYS OF THE CITY.

stills

still from IN THE LAST DAYS OF THE CITY, a film by TAMER EL SAID. world premiere 66TH Berlinale (Forum), february 2016still from IN THE LAST DAYS OF THE CITY, a film by TAMER EL SAID. world premiere 66TH Berlinale (Forum), february 2016still from IN THE LAST DAYS OF THE CITY, a film by TAMER EL SAID. world premiere 66TH Berlinale (Forum), february 2016

THE FILM'S JOURNEY

In the Last Days of the City was born as an idea in 2006, while war was raging in Iraq and Lebanon. By the time shooting began at the very end of 2008, the global financial crisis had begun, the Gaza war was under way, and protest movements calling for social and political change had become established as a regular reality in Egypt. With an ageing dictator priming his son to inherit power and extreme levels of poverty amidst the luxurious excesses of corruption, the sense that things could not go on like this was palpable.

The film was conceived as an act of witness, set on the borders of fiction and reality. The script was completed by Tamer El Said and Rasha Salti in 2007. It created the soul of the film while being open enough to allow the film to respond to life in the cities and people that would carry it. With the exception of Khalid and Laila, all the film’s characters play a version of themselves. The stories of Hanan and Maryam are very personal stories of loss, filmed as documentary. Khalid’s mother is played by Tamer’s mother. His three friends are filmmakers who got to know each other through filmmaking before working on In the Last Days of the City.

Bringing together the cast and crew was a major undertaking which came together by 2008, however at that point less than 15% of the budget was in place. Faced with the decision of postponing the film, and recognizing a now or never moment, the crew and cast decided to throw caution aside, defer their fees, and film guerilla. Originally planned as a three month shoot, the film took two years and three winters to complete. Without the unrelenting dreams and efforts of an entire cast and crew willing to adjust their lives to the needs and unruly rhythms of the film it simply would not have been made.

The story of the filming was an epic improvisation, of losing locations and finding new ones; of losing actors and changing story lines; of filming events that became part of the fabric of the story; of gradually finding a community of investors and funders willing to take a risk on the film’s team. Throughout, Tamer’s mother was ill. Sadly, she passed away weeks before shooting was completed. Utterly exhausted, the film’s team returned to their lives in December 2010 hoping to rest for some time. Six weeks later Egypt’s streets erupted in revolution and toppled Mubarak.

Called In the Last Days of the City long before this moment of rupture, it turned out to have been a film shot with a sense of foresight and edited with the benefit of hindsight. Everything the film had captured gathered entirely different meanings, and kept developing new ones with each turn in the race of events. Meanwhile, the editing room settled down to grapple with over 250 hours of footage against the backdrop of mass demonstrations and a country convulsing, each person participating in parallel to the film in their own way.

A key aspect of the film’s journey was a common desire to confront the hurdles that made making In the Last Days of the City and films like it so difficult. Indeed so much of what made the film possible, was a sense that big sacrifices were essential to move beyond the flattening of Arab stories and images into stereotypes and news. Aware that so many issues facing Arab cinema are infrastructural, and identifying themselves within a much larger movement across the region, work began to establish an alternative film centre called Cimatheque as a fully equipped hub for education and screening to support the local filmmaking community. Built over the last five years and functioning in parts since 2012, it opened last June.

The making of In the Last Days of the City was a defiant collaboration between individuals from many countries who broke from roles and rules to make a seemingly impossible film happen – a search for the pulse of an exceptional moment.

media (press)

press kit download (.pdf)

biography El Said

* Cairo (Egypt)

Egyptian filmmaker, writer and producer Tamer El Said lives and works in Cairo. He studied Film Directing at the High Institute of Cinema, graduating in 1998 with Honourable Mention, and received his Diploma in 2002. He has worked as 1st AD on some of Egypt’s bigger feature films, directed commercials, taught and worked as a producer for a number of production companies. He has directed numerous award winning shorts and documentaries. Work on his first feature, In the Last Days of the City, started in 2008. The film was shot in Cairo, Alexandria, Beirut, Baghdad and Berlin and brings together many upcoming talents from the Arab world. In 2007 he founded his own company Zero Production, an independent production company in Cairo. Zero Production supports independent filmmakers in Cairo and the region whether directly producing, lending equipment or offering work space. El Said is currently in the process of setting up, with Khalid Abdalla and others, Cimatheque, an alternative film centre that will offer services and space to help develop and incubate the independent film movement in Cairo through building networks, sharing resources and building an infra-structure for the alternative film platform.

cast

In the Last Days of the City - Akher Ayam El Madina




CAST (in order of appearance)
KhalidKhalid Abdalla
MotherZeinab Mostafa
GaberMohamed Gaber
HananHanan Yousef
EditorIslam Kamal
MaryamMaryam Saleh Ikram
Flower LadyIkram
AlyAly Sobhy
Aly KhameesAly Khamees
RaafatRaafat Bayoumi
LailaLaila Samy
BassemBassem Fayad
HassanHayder Helo
TarekBasim Hajar
Abla FadilaFadila Tawfik
DoormanZakaria Ali Mohamed
Lady in NiqabRola Asir
Man in Horreya CaféMostafa Bayoumi
CalligrapherMahdi El Jabouri Hisham
Violent HusbandWanas Reham
Assaulted Wife ProtesterAbdelkader Mohamed
Thug 1Adel Mohamed Shahat
Thug 2Mohamed Hanafy
European PhotographerJulia Schulz
Angry Taxi DriverMohamed El Sayes
EtimadEtimad Ali Hassan
Uncle MounirUncle Mounir

crew

CREW
DirectorTamer El Said
ProducersTamer El Said, Khalid Abdalla
Co-producersHana Al Bayaty, Michel Balagué, Marcin Malaszczak, Cat Villiers
ScreenplayTamer El Said & Rasha Salti
Director of PhotographyBassem Fayad
Production DesignerSalah Marei
EditorsMohamed A. Gawad; Vartan Avakian & Barbara Bossuet
Sound MixMikael Barre
Sound DesignerVictor Bresse
MusicAmélie Legrand, Victor Moïse
Colour GradingJorge Piquer Rodriguez
Visual EffectsUnai Rosende
Art DirectorYasser El Husseiny
CostumeZeina Kiwan
Produced byZero Production
in co-production withSunnyland films. Mengamuk Films. Autonomous
Distribution in EgyptZawya Distribution. asobky@mifegypt.com yshazli@mifegypt.com
Distribution in Germanyw o l f Kino. kino@wolfberlin.org

festivals

AWARDS:
Caligari Film Prize for a film in the Forum section, Berlinale
Best Director, BAFICI
Grand Prix, New Horizons
Best Film & Youth Audience Prize, Nantes Les 3 Continents
UNESCO Cultural Diversity Award

2016:
BERLINALE; NEW DIRECTORS NEW FILMS; VILNIUS; BAFICI; INDIE LISBOA; SUBVERSIVE FILM FEST ZAGREB; TIFF - CLUJ; MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS BOSTON; OLHAR DE CINEMA - CURITIBA; NEW HORIZONS; SAO PAULO ARAB FILM FEST; WORLD CINEMA AMSTERDAM; PORTO ALEGRE; BUENOS AIRES LATIN ARAB; MILANO (LA VIE DEL CINEMA); EURASIA, ALMATY; MINNEAPOLIS ARAB FILM FEST; ARAB CAMERA FEST ROTTERDAM; SAN FRANCISCO ARAB FILM FEST; VIENNALE; CPH; OURENSE; FILM AFRICA LONDON; AFRICA IN MOTION SCOTLAND; GENEVE TOUS ECRANS; NANTES 3 CONTINENTS; BRISBANE ASIA PACIFIC FEST; REC TARRAGONA; PRAGUE GOETHE INSTITUTE; BERKELEY FILM MUSEUM; MONA FILM FEST, ANTWERP; IF ISTANBUL; CINEMAFRICA STOCKHOLM