North Africa

Al asfour - The Sparrow (1972)
Youssef Chahine
Egypt
102′
The Sparrow fascinates with its parallel strands of action. The various ways of encountering a criminal trader, namely by a police officer and a journalist, are ultimately only traces that lead to the tip of an iceberg: the corruption of Egyptian society on the eve of the Six-Day War.
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with bonus
Cairo Station (1958)
Youssef Chahine
Egypt
73′
Bonus:
Melodrama and thriller, social drama and love story in one, the masterly feature film by the Egyptian director Youssef Chahine, made in 1958, is located entirely on the station grounds. The old Madbouli is the owner of a kiosk at Cairo's main railway station. One day he finds a half-starved, poor man at the edge of the tracks. Madbouli feels sorry for the sad-looking, limping farmer Kenaoui and hires him as a flying newspaper salesman. At work, Kenaoui meets the beautiful Hanouma every day, who also earns her living at the station by supplying travellers with lemonade drinks. Kenaoui falls for the cheerful woman and makes it his goal to marry her. Lonely and in obsessive longing, he cuts out lightly dressed women from magazines in his hut at the edge of the train station in the evening, hanging his walls with them. Although he knows that Hanouma is already promised to the suitcase porter and trade unionist Abou Serih, one day he reveals his feelings to her and proposes to her. Her rejection, soaked with mockery and ridicule, drives Kenawi further into a rage-drenched obsession for Hanuma. Restored version.
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Death For Sale (2011)
Faouzi Bensaidi
Morocco
112′
Three friends strive to preserve their loyalty to each other in spite of a corrupt society. These young men live in Tétouan, an impoverished Moroccan city. Soufiane, the youngest, spends his days pilfering. Allal, the oldest, is trying to gain a foothold as a drug dealer. Malik falls in love with Dounia who works as a prostitute in a night club. The three friends part to make their own way in life, but before long it looks as though their futures will founder in a maelstrom of violence, greed, jealousy and betrayal. Seeing no other way out, they decide to get together and raid a jeweller’s shop. The film opens with Malik walking towards Dounia, silently laughing. Behind her, knots of video tape float up from a rubbish dump like paper dragons. Faouzi Bensaïdi gives his relaxed young actors plenty of room to manoeuvre. His work casts a spell on account of a visual style that is both laconic and pow- erful and demonstrates how each friend’s dream of happiness only serves to drive a wedge between them. Beneath permanently leaden city clouds they nonetheless find a way to treat each other with gen- erosity and trust.
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La belle et la meute (2017)
Kaouther Ben Hania
Tunisia
100′
During a student party, Mariam, a young Tunisian woman, meets the mysterious Youssef and leaves with him. A long night will begin, during which she’ll have to fight for her rights and her dignity. But how can Justice be made when it lies on the side of the tormentors?
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The Return of the Prodigal Son (1976)
Youssef Chahine
Egypt
124′
In this Andre Gide adaptation, an activist is released after many years in prison and returns home, shaking up established relationships among his family members at the farm governed by his strict father. Demonstrating Chahine’s eclecticism, this is an elegant melodrama, exuberant musical, layered allegory, and profound portrait of personal and political disillusionment.
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The Song of Mary Blane (2019)
Bruno Moll
Switzerland
86′
The painter from Solothurn (CH) Frank Buchser was sent to the USA in 1866 to paint a large painting of the "Heroes of the Civil War" for the future Council of States Hall in Bern. Initially Buchser was busy portraying politicians and generals in the spirit of his clients. More and more, however, he became interested in the Indians expelled to the reservations and in the living conditions of the slaves who had just been freed. Years earlier, fascinated by Moorish culture, Frank Buchser rides disguised as a Turkish sheikh to the Moroccan town of Fez, which is forbidden to Christians under death penalty. The Swiss filmmaker Bruno Moll (Pizza Bethlehem, Tunisreise) tells the two adventurous journeys of the rebellious and controversial artist. The film narrative begins with film documents of the riots in Charlottesville in August 2017 and the diary entries made by Frank Buchser in 1869, when General Lee was his model for the portrait. In a large flashback the film tells Buchser's story of his stay in Andalusia and Morocco in 1858, returns with him to his homeland and closes with his North American adventure.
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