Egypt’s Youssef Chahine in a coma

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This article pretty much says it all:

Egypt’s celebrated film director Chahine in coma

CAIRO (AFP) — Egypt’s Youssef Chahine, Arab cinema’s most celebrated director, flew out to hospital in Paris on an emergency flight on Monday after falling into a coma following a brain haemorrhage.

Chahine, accompanied by his niece Marianne Khoury, flew out of Cairo on a specially chartered medical flight to France, Khaled Yussef, who co-directed Chahine’s latest film “Chaos” in 2007, told AFP.

He was to be treated at the American Hospital at Neuilly, outside Paris, an airport official said, after his plane makes a brief stopover in Athens to refuel.

The 82-year-old “is in a coma following a cerebral haemorrhage,” Mohammed Abdel Daher of Ash-Shuruq hospital in Cairo told Egypt’s MENA news agency on Sunday, adding that Chahine was in a “serious” condition.

Chahine won official plaudits for his pioneering role in Egypt’s film industry and was awarded the Cannes film festival’s 50th anniversary lifetime achievement award in 1997.

But he has never shied away from controversy during a long career, criticising US foreign policy as well as Egypt and the Arab world.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said that his country would pay for his treatment in “consideration of his involvement in the construction of Egyptian cinema,” MENA reported.

Chahine made his first film in Egypt in 1950 and it was he who discovered and launched the career of Omar Sharif, who shot to stardom with “Lawrence of Arabia” and “Doctor Zhivago.”

He claimed Cairo stopped subsidising his films after his 1973 cult movie Al-Asfur (The Bird) which attributed the Arab defeat in the 1967 war against Israel to the corruption of the political classes at the time.

He also made three highly acclaimed films in the late 1990s — Al-Muhajer (The Emigrant), Al-Masir (Destiny) and Al-Akhar (The Other) — which focused on tolerance and the distinction between Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism.

Despite his often abrasive tone, Egyptian authorities — officially at least — hailed Chahine’s contribution to the nation’s cinema and his “daring” representation of its society.

His last film, “Chaos,” was typical of the man who sought to uphold the rights of the oppressed, depicting a popular uprising in a Cairo district against a corrupt police officer and his abusive subordinates.

Born in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria on January 25, 1926, Chahine received a French schooling and studied briefly at university there before moving to the United States to study theatre.

His happy memories of his time in the United States were in contrast to his later “fury” at Washington’s policies against the Arab world, particularly in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

“I am still very attached to my professors who taught me film-making 60 years ago in California,” he told AFP in an interview in 2003.

“I fell in love there during that time … but (now) there is also the fury I feel against American politics.”

“He is a legend,” Egyptian actress Yousra Selim, who played in several of Chahine’s films, told AFP after he was taken ill. “There will not be another one like him, in Arab or world cinema.”

“I cannot say enough about his creativity, but I can say after working with him on five films that he creates a family relationship between everyone on the set and in the office.”

Although his frenetic work pace slowed in recent years, Chahine in 2001 took part in demonstrations to defend the rights of Cairo farmers in the face of government efforts to appropriate their land.

His declaration at the time that “the enemy is not only outside, but also inside” summarized much of his cinematic opus.

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One Response to “Egypt’s Youssef Chahine in a coma”

  1. Abdelmalek Melaiki Says:

    I am sorry for what happend to Mr Chahine. I was very sad for hearing this news. Mr Chahine is one of my favorite, i hope that he feel better, and God bless him.

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