Film ‘In the Last Days of the City’ Shows Life in Cairo in Days Leading up to Arab Spring

Gus Navarro/WDET

What does it mean - to the audience and the filmmaker - to capture a city on film?

All its flaws. All its beauty. All its trauma. All its love and culture.

What if your city is undergoing a major and sometimes painful transition? That’s something we know a lot about here in Detroit — and we also have seen how difficult it is for filmmakers and documentarians of all stripes to capture all that this city is.

Egyptian filmmaker Tamer El Said knows something about trying to honor one’s city while also looking at it critically through art. His film “In the Last Days of the City” is about a filmmaker trying to capture and understand Cairo through his art during the weeks and months leading up to the Arab Spring in 2011.

In the Last Days of City” screens this evening at 7pm at the Arab American National Museum.

El Said tells Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson that Cairo is a city rich with stories.

It’s a kind city, but it can be also very aggressive. This is what the film was trying to capture,” says El Said. He says it was important for him to let the city inform the story. “It is like dancing with the city, but allowing the city to take the lead.”

Art does not necessarily come from pain, but it has to come from urgency. You create art because you have an urge to do something, you feel there is something that you cannot continue without sharing it with others.”

To hear more from El Said, click on the audio player above.

In the Last Days of the City


Image credit: Gus Navarro/WDET

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Detroit Today

Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.  

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