In the Last Days of the City: A Director's Visual Exploration of Arab Urbanity


The Laboratory for the Urban Commons presents the screening of the multi-awarded film In the Last Days of the City (2016) at the Greek Film Archive, on Thursday 21 June 2018, at 20.30, in the presence of director Tamer El Said. This will be the premiere screening of the film in Greece, with both English and Greek subtitles, and the inauguration of the new public program of the Laboratory for the Urban Commons.

In the Last Days of the City tells the fictional story of a filmmaker from downtown Cairo, played by Khalid Abdalla (United 93, The Square), as he struggles to capture the soul of a city on edge while facing the loss of his own life. Shot in Cairo, Beirut, Baghdad, and Berlin in the period of two years prior to the outbreak of the revolution in Egypt, the film’s multi-layered stories are a visually rich exploration of friendship, loneliness, loss, and life in cities shaped by the shadows of war and adversity.

Tamer El Said, “In the Last Days of the City, film still. Courtesy LUC Athens.

The world premiere of the film took place in Berlin International Film Festival 2016, where it received the Caligari Film Prize. Since then, the film has been invited to over 130 festivals around the world, receiving more than 12 international awards, in France, Germany, USA, Poland, Italy, Russia, Argentina, and Turkey. Following its world premiere, the film has been well received by international and Arab critics. It has been called “the most important film in Egyptian cinema, if not Arab cinema, in a long time” by the former editor-in-chief of Cahier du Cinema, Jean-Michel Frodon, in an article for Slate.

Film Short Description:
In the Last days of the City is a film within a film that is a haunting, yet lyric chronicle of recent years in the Arab world, where revolutions seemed to spark hope for change and yield further instability in one stroke. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Khalid Abdalla (The Kite Runner, The Square) plays the protagonist of Tamer El Said’s ambitious feature debut, a filmmaker in Cairo attempting to capture the zeitgeist of his city as the world changes around him—from personal love and loss to the fall of the Mubarak regime. Throughout the film, friends send footage and share stories from Berlin, Baghdad and Beirut, creating a powerful, multi-layered meditation on togetherness, the tactile hold of cities and the meaning of homeland. Shot in 2008 and completed in 2016, the film explores the weight of the cinematic image as record and storytelling in an on-going time of change. *Synopsis (from New Directors/ New Films, New York).

Director’s Short Bio:
Tamer El Said is a filmmaker born in Cairo in 1972, where he lives and works. He studied filmmaking in the High Institute of Cinema – Cairo and journalism in Cairo University. He went on to make many documentaries and short films, which received several international and local awards. Tamer founded Zero Production in 2007 with the aim to produce independent films. He also founded, among others, Cimatheque - Alternative Film Centre in Egypt. In the Last Days of the City is his first feature film.

Organisers’ Description:
The Laboratory for the Urban Commons is a collective that develops and produces research, artistic practices, urban interventions and education. This broad composition of people desires the re-imagination of the everyday through research-led tactics and non-formal and informal strategies. The Laboratory for the Urban Commons operates by creating a self-testing and self-generating area for research and production, developing methods that initiate, document and expand forms of critical discourse, in parallel to the unfolding of counter-hegemonic social and artistic practices. Looking towards an extended Mediterranean with solidarity and anticipation, the Laboratory for the Urban Commons is operating out of Athens.

Film Credits:

In the Last Days of the City (2016)

Director: Tamer El Said
Script: Tamer El Said, Rasha Salti
Production: Tamer El Said, Khalid Abdalla
Co-Production: Hana Al Bayaty, Michel Balagué, Marcin Malaszczak, Cat Villiers
Camera: Bassem Fayad
Art Direction: Salah Marei
Editors: Mohamed Abdel Gawad, Vartan Avakian, Barbara Bossuet
Sound Design: Victor Bresse
Sound Mixing: Mikaël Barre
Music: Amélie Legrand, Victor Moïse
Set Designer: Yasser Al-Husseini
Costumes: Zeina Kiwan
Colour: Grading Jorge, Piquer Rodriguez
Visual Effects: Unai Rosende

The screening will be followed by a Q&A session with director Tamer El Said in English.

In the Last Days of the City
Directed by Tamer El Said
Thu 21 June 2018, at 20:30
Duration: 118 minutes
Language: Arabic
Subtitles: English and Greek

Greek Film Archive
Iera Odos 48 & Meg. Alexandrou
Athens 10435
Entrance: 5 euros
Followed by a Q&A with the director in English.

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