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Egypt / Algeria, 1978 (MIFF 1979)

Director: Youssef Chahine

The story of Alexandria. . . Why? begins in 1942, at a time when Egypt found itself in a tense and highly precarious situation The Egyptians are hostile to the occupying British forces, Rommel's army is advancing threateningly, and so are the Italians Signs of the approaching Palestinian-Jewish conflict are also in evidence.

Yehia, a teenager, is blissfully unaware of these problems His heroes are the Americans, and he avidly buys their records and watches their escapist movies Told at school that he has a talent for acting, he dreams of receiving training in California's Pasadena Playhouse.

In contrast to Yehia, other young people are more affected by the realities of war A politically committed teenager plans subversive acts against the British and even against Churchill, a homosexual picks up British soldiers, then for the thrill of it, threatens them with death A beautiful Jewish girl, expecting a child from her Arab lover, flees with her father to South Africa to escape the coming Nazi threat.

Yehia makes a disastrous attempt to stage a musical in the style of the Hollywood films he so much admires Although his failure threatens to end his theatrical ambitions, his family comes to his rescue and helps him to realise his dreams.

See also...


Veteran Egyptian filmmaker Youssef Chahine ventures into twelfth century Andalusia to tell the tale of Avérroès, an influential Islamic philosopher. Religious fundamentalists protested against ... More »


Malak is a famous singer and actress. After an onerous divorce, she falls for the charms of the smooth Lamei, who sees in Malak his chance to climb a few rungs up the social ladder. Her love changes ... More »

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