Hatem (Amr Saad), a moderate young preacher in Cairo, becomes a television celebrity with millions of fans. This makes him a perfect tool for government manipulation on a mass scale, as his eloquence and wit are employed by key figures in the Egyptian state to influence policy and religious practice. However, when the cameras are off, bloody struggles for state power rage, and as Hatem tries to stay out of political and sectarian disputes, his personal and professional life become increasingly consumed by the complex tapestry of Egyptian politics. Based on a novel by the same name, Mawlana by Ibrahim Issa, the story offers a critique of power, corruption, and fundamentalism in Egyptian society. In addition, this dark and convincing film highlights the importance of media in the production of political and religious agendas.
Mizna proudly presents the 12th Twin Cities Arab Film Festival, September 27 to October 1 – a chance to see thoughtfully curated films from Arab and Arab American filmmakers. Established in 2003, the Arab Film Fest has featured local debuts of independent narrative and documentary features and short films from more than fifteen countries. Over its twelve editions, our festival has created a necessary space in the Twin Cities for Arab and Muslim filmmakers to tell their stories in beautiful and innovative ways. This year, our project feels more urgent than ever, as our programming serves a response to national and international policies that target the lives of immigrants and refugees, while also tackling the global threat of xenophobia and Islamophobia.
About the Film
About the Filmmakers
Wael Omar : Wael’s fascination with cameras started at a young age having been born to a painter and a photo-hobbyist who himself had produced two films in a brief and whirlwind career.
Many visits to Kodak later, he was determined to make a career out of being behind a camera in one capacity or another. In 2005, after earning his MA in Film Arts and having spent several years as an apprentice, Wael shot State of Emergency as part of the Democracy 76 Project -series of short documentaries that logged the peak of Mubarak’s brutal policed state and the beginnings of the social and political undercurrents that would sweep the country into revolution six years later.
Wael’s work has previously aired on BBC Storyville, AlArabiya, France 3, and ITVS as well as being featured in various international film festivals and expert panels on digital activism.
With an eye to strengthen and expand the documentary movement in the region, in 2008, he co-founded Middle West Films, an incubator and co-production house for feature projects. He currently resides in Cairo.
Philippe L. Dib : Philippe L. Dib is an independent filmmaker of Franco-Lebanese origin currently residing in Cairo. With a background in film production from UCLA Extension’s Film Department, he has explored various avenues of cinema such as a scriptwriter and actor in short films in London, L.A.
and Cairo. He has also conducted underwater cinematography in Sharm El-Shiekh for promotional purposes (1994-5). In 1996 he co-wrote and directed his first feature film, Welcome Says The Angel, filmed during the outbreak of violence following the case of Rodney King’s in L.A., starring Ayesha Hauer (daughter of Rutger Hauer).
In 2006 he wrote and directed El Tanbura that got him the Golden Turon in the Etnofilm Festival in Cadca(2008) and the Jury’s prize award in the Sawi documentary film festival in Cairo (2006). In addition to his film career, he has also participated in numerous projects of the world music circuit.
These include forming Zuweira in 1999, a Cairo-based multi-ethnic band with the accompaniment of Moudou of Senegal, and Karima Nayt of Algeria. Participation in the music score of Omar Shargawi’s Ma’ salama ya Jamil (winner of the Rotterdam festival) and Buddha Bar XI by Ravin as well as other countless music and film projects.