Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) is screening two Egyptian films in its Middle East and Africa category: “Sheikh Jackson”, and “Yomeddine” (Judgement Day).
Yomeddine is the first full-length independent Egyptian film to be nominated for the Palme d’Or, in Cannes Film festival this year.
The dramatic film is written and directed by the Egyptian-Austrian Abu Bakr Shawky, and it portrays the story of a real-life leprosy survivor who embarks on a journey to find his father.
Its main actors include Radi Gamal and Ahmed Abdel Hafiz.
The film has garnered considerable praise among well-known publications from The Guardian, to The Hollywood Reporter and Variety, which deems it “a lovingly-made, character-driven road movie that occasionally dips into sentimentality yet has moments that honestly play on the heartstrings.”
“Shawky’s breezy plot plays like a Middle Eastern answer to Italian neorealism, peering beyond the most obvious narratives to mine for the authentic representations of under-seen lives,” an IndieWire critic wrote.
Yomeddine’s screening dates are August 3 and 12.
Meanwhile Sheikh Jackson, written and directed by Amr Salama, has been selected by Egypt as its candidate for the best foreign-language film Oscar.
The movie was premiered at Gouna Film festival in 2017, and follows a strict Muslim whose secret passion for Michael Jackson earned him the childhood nickname “Jackson”.
The film is set on the day of Michael Jackson’s death in 2009, and delves into the emotions and existential questions the popstar’s death prompts for the sheikh.
“Sheikh Jackson questions why people embrace religious fundamentalism, and champions pop culture as another framework for our hopes and dreams,” MIFF’s website says.
The website adds Hollywood Reporter’s description of the film as “an offbeat charmer that boldly sets up its bizarre conceit and runs with it.”
Sheikh Jackson has been screened on August 9, with the next screening expected on August 15.