Playing at The Vic Theatre
808 Douglas St,
Runs till Aug 1st, 2019
Please check local listings for a screening near you.
I will gladly accept a Free Trip to Egypt. Had I learned about Tarek Mounib‘s mission to reverse the xenophobia and reveal the true side of this country, I’ll be there in an instant! I want to take in the ancient wonders of the world and experience the culture as it is now. People forget that the Egypt we know of today differs from the one from the antiquities. They were occupied by at least five other nations when the pharaonic world was fading. My assumption is that some stayed and became citizens. The creative mind behind this project comes from a blended society. Given how old this country is, the mix of Greco, French, Roman, Nubian, Ottoman, and Arab in some bloodlines is no surprise.
Mounib is a Canadian-Egyptian entrepreneur living in Switzerland. In response to increasing levels of xenophobia and portrayal of the predominately Arab world on broadcast media, he reached out to people who fear his culture. Some reactions are straight out of what one would expect in buying into the (sic WW2 era) propaganda and others with trepidation. With those that he found, five people in total, they got an eye-opening trip.
Director Ingrid Serban coordinated with local Egyptians to follow the different families as they got to explore Cairo. With Mounib, Forest Sun and Yasmin Kamal serving as producers, I find that this work is just as balanced behind the scenes so that the mission includes hiring local camera crew. I would have liked to see the reactions from those host families after this trip instead of these good ol’ boys from America. Most of them definitely did not take their free trip for granted.
Those who went are Brian Kopilec, a Marine; Ellen and Terry Decker, an elderly couple, Mark Spalding, a policeman and Katie Appledorn, a veteran. They are paired with an Egyptian family willing to host them and show them Cairo. The moments I liked was when they visited parts of the city not as well travelled. Some historical notes would have helped–especially when I’m a budding Egyptologist–just to show that this nation is not all about hate. By the time of the Greeks, even some mystery religions promoted peace–especially that of Aset. As I recall, even Cleopatra wanted the doors to her country open; she wanted allies than enemies.
With no surprise, the Pyramids of Giza and the Cairo Museum were worked into the narrative. I’ve been wondering for the longest time about the renovations to the latter; it’s the same ol’ by the looks of it while the Grand Egyptian Museum will not be opening its doors to the world until 2020. Construction is ongoing.
The song, “This Little Light of Mine” is a tent pole to drive home the civil rights sentiment and we hear it. This film is not about the rallies and hate. What we see is in how strangers can be good to each other. Another song that went through my mind–even though it was written in response to the poverty in Africa–is Queen’s lyrical ballad “Is This the World We Created?”
To buy into what politicians or media says is not the best way to learn. Serban and Mounib’s documentary is terrific. The big question is whether people will want to see their film and take their message to heart. They say it’s best to learn about any country’s people and heritage (be it ancient or recent) for yourselves, and I fully support that!
4 Stars out of 5