Youssef Chahine, Legendary Egyptian Filmmaker, Dies at Age 82

One of the Arab worlds most celebrated filmmakers, the Egyptian born Youssef Chahine, has died today after having spent several weeks in a coma after suffering a brain hemorrhage.

Mr. Chahine was pronounced dead at 3:30 this morning in Cairo. He was 82 years of age. A funeral service for the late filmmaker will be held Monday in Cairo, and Mr. Chahine’s body will be buried in Alexandria, the city of his birth.

Youssef Chahine was an active member of the Egyptian film community since 1950, and is widely regarded as one of the most important filmmakers in the Arab community, as well as the world.

Mr. Chahine directed over forty films in his long career. He is credited with launching the career of Omar Sharif, who was featured in one of Mr. Chahine’s early films, the 1954 “Siraa Fil-Wadi”.

His films often took a critical eye towards difficult subjects, including US foreign policy and the Egyptian government. His 1973 film “Al-Asfur” saw the Arab defeat at the hands of Israel in the 1967 war as a symptom of political corruption among the Arab political class.

A frequent winner at international film festivals, Mr. Chahine was given the lifetime achievement award at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival.

In 1978 Mr. Chahine released “Iskanderija…lih?” (Alexandria…Why?), the first in a series semi-autobiographical films, including the 1990 “Iksanderija…kaman oue kaman” (Aleksandra Again and Forever). In 2004, he released “Alexandria…New York”, which explores the filmmaker’s relationship with the U.S.

His last film, “Chaos”, was released in 2007, and was co directed with Khaled Youssef, who took over the filmmaking after Mr. Chahine was beset by illness.


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Christopher P. Duffy

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