Film Critic and Historian Mahmoud Ali at Ismailia Festival: My writings are about artworks, not people
On the sidelines of its 24th edition, the Ismailia International Film Festival for Documentaries and Shorts held a seminar honoring the great critic and historian Mahmoud Ali. Critic Ayman Al-Hakim moderated the seminar in the presence of Arafa Mahmoud, author of “A Diver in the Sea of Cinema” book, and a number of critics and cinematographers, including director of photography Mahmoud Abdel-Samie, and critics Magda Morris, Ashraf Gharib and Safaa El-Laithy.
Writer Ayman al-Hakim started the seminar by thanking the festival management, and then talked about the history of the writer Mahmoud Ali in dating the film industry, saying: “It is fortunate for me that I worked under the leadership of the great writer and critic Mahmoud Ali when he was the editor-in-chief of Radio and Television Magazine. The magazine enjoyed its golden age under his leadership, as he gave it artistic weight".
Al-Hakim added: "We need books and volumes to talk about Mahmoud Ali in terms of his professionalism as a journalist or historian. He was credited with editing the memoirs of director Muhammad Karim, and on dating the history of Egyptian cinema in first 50 years, besides the encyclopedia of Egyptian cinema legislation. Ali did not belong to a particular current or ideology, and he won all his battles”.
The great critic Mahmoud Ali spoke about his honor at the Ismailia Festival, started by thanking the festival's president, critic Essam Zakaria, then reviewed his writing career since joining the Journalism Department at the Faculty of Arts. Ali revealed that when he decided to date the film industry from 1896 to 1952, he found that most of what was written about this period contained false information. Ali then talked about the scenes of his book “100 Years of Censorship of Artistic Works in the History of Egyptian Cinema”, as well as the book "Forgotten Papers in the History of Egyptian Cinema".
In response to a question about the influence of his critical writings on his relationship with the artistic community, "Ali" asserted that he was writing about works, not people. Ali cited the artist Adel Imam, whom he met only once in a studio, and despite that, he thanked him for the articles he wrote about his films.
Writer Arafa Mahmoud spoke about the scenes of the book "A Diver in the Sea of Cinema", saying: “First, I thank the festival management for choosing me to take responsibility for a book about a great historian as Mahmoud Ali who wrote about 20 books in which he documented the history of cinema. Along my meetings with Ali, I discovered very important information and details. For example, the memoirs of Muhammad Karim, which included an important letter from Muhammad Karim addressed to the Minister of Culture at the time, Tharwat Okasha, about the movie "God's light". There is also the document of selling Hussein Sidqi’s films for 2000 pounds in installments."Arafa spoke as well on Ali’sbook “Forgotten Papers”, in which he talks about the story of the movie that Abdel Nasser wrote, but itdid not see the light.
During the seminar, the director of photography, Mahmoud Abdel Samie, talked about the idea of establishing a cinema museum that has existed for 40 years, stressing that he had spoken with people who own some artistic holdings that are suitable for the museum, but they are asking for large sums of money.