Still from The Yacobian BuildingYesterday, we had a wonderful outing with Leilouta and her husband when we went to see the Egyptian movie The Yacoubian Building, which came to the nation’s capital as part of the DC film festival. The movie was as fantastic as expected. Based on the highly-acclaimed novel of the same name, the movie dissects Egyptian society through the lives of the residents of the Yacoubian Building — which exists in real life in Cairo.

The movie crosses many red lines in Egyptian society by discussing taboo issues such as homosexuality, corruption and fundamentalism, among others. The flick had all-star actors including Adel Imam, Yousra and Nour Al Sharif (whom I had the pleasure to meet some years ago in Doha).

Adel Imam was fantastic as usual. He played rich womanizer Zaki el Dousski brilliantly. He came across exactly as I imagined him while reading the book some months ago. He was charming with a great sense of humor. The cinematography in the movie was notable as it was quite expressive, showing tremendous development from that of my teenage days, when I watched Egyptian movies nonstop. The person introducing the movie at the festival said two things of interest. One: The actual residents of the building are suing the author and moviemaker, as the story is so close to their real lives. Two: This was the most expensive Egyptian movie ever made. Now, I can’t help but wonder: Are we witnessing a revival of the Egyptian cinema?

After the movie, we went to the nearby Ruby Tuesday to discuss the movie over dinner. We all had the same questions. Was the movie ever shown In Egypt? What was the reaction there? Was it censored? What about all the homosexual scenes? Were they shown in full? Any Egyptian readers out there? Can anyone shed light on this?