Arts & Artists
Chahine, Youssef

(1926- 2008 )

Born in 1926 in Alexandria,
Egypt, Chahine started his education in a friars' school, then attended the prestigious Victoria College. After one year at the University of Alexandria he moved to America in 1946, and spent two years at the Pasadena Playhouse taking courses on film and dramatic arts. Chahine’s early films in Egypt included Raging Sky (1953), which he began while Egypt was a monarchy under King Farouk. The film deals with a peasant’s challenge to a feudal landlord.

In 1970 he was awarded the Golden Tanit at the
Carthage Film Festival.

In 1972 Chahine founded Misr International Films, a Cairo-based film production and distribution company (, with partners Marianne Khoury and Gabriel Khoury. In all he directed some 40 films, and he is probably the most independent of Arab film-makers, producing films that raise important issues.

In 1997, 46 years and 5 invitations later, he was awarded the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the festival

• Alexandria…New York, 2004
• Skoot hansawwer (Silence... We're Rolling), 2001
• Al akhar (The Other), 1999
• Al massir (Destiny), 1997
• Al mohager (Emigrant), 1994
• Iskandaria Kaman ou Kaman, (Alexandria Again and Forever), 1990
• El-youm el-sades (The Sixth Day), 1986
• Weda'an Bonapart (Adieu Bonaparte), 1985
• Haddouta misriya (Memory), 1982
• Iskandaria ley? (Alexandria why?), 1978 Winner Silver Bear, Berlin Film Festival, 1978
• Awdat al ibn al dal (Return of the Prodigal Son), 1976
• Al Ikhtiyar (The Choice), 1970.
• Al ard (The Land), 1969
• Rimal min dahab (Sands of Gold), 1966
• Fagr yom jadid (Dawn of a New Day), 1964
• El-Nasser Salah el-Din (Saladin), 1963
• Nida el ‘ochaq, 1961
• Ragil fi hayati (A Man in My Life), 1961
• Bein edeik (In your Hands), 1960
• Bab el hadid (Cario Station), 1958
• Gamila el gazairiya, (Gamila the Algerian), 1958
• Inta habibi, (You are My Love), 1957
• Wada’t hubbak, (Farewell to Love), 1957
• Shetan el sahra, (Demon of the Desert), 1954
• Nisa’ bila rigal, (Women without Men), 1953
• Sayidat al kitar (Train Lady), 1952
• Al muharij al kabir (The Grand Comedian), 1952
• Ibn el Nil, (Son of the Nile), 1951. Chahine’s first invitation to the Cannes film Festival.
• Baba Amin, 1950

Synopsis: El-Nasser Saladin (the defender/deliverer) (1963) is a three-hour film about Saladin who is preparing to liberate Jerusalem from its Crusader occupiers. Written by
Naguib Mahfouz and the Abderrahman Sherkaoui, one can see a parallel between Saladin and President Nasser. Saladin is shown as an educated and peaceable man, giving medical to Richard the Lion Heart, who was shot by an arrow. Saladin is quoted as saying: "Religion is God’s and the Earth is for all. I promise to all Christians in Jerusalem the same rights as are enjoyed by Muslims."

Al mohager (The Emigrant) (1994) is a story written by Chahine and inspired by the Biblical character of Joseph, son of Jacob. Chahine had wanted to make this film for along time, but the film proved to be controversial for religious reasons, as fundamentalists opposed the depiction of religious characters in films

Iskandaria, ley? is the first part of an autobiographic quartet, completed with Haddouta misriya (1982), Alexandria Again and Forever (1990), and Alexandria… New York (2004).