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A Question and Answer session with Hesham Issawi, the director of Cairo Exit

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In a question and answer session just after the premiere Tribeca Film Festival viewing of Cairo Exit, the director, Hesham Issawi, described how difficult it was to shoot this film, not only because its subject is so controversial inside Egypt, but because independent film, as a genre, really doesn’t exist in that country.

“This project started back in 2009,” Issawi noted. “Independent film in Egypt is a new wave; this film is one of a very few produced in the last few years. There are a lot of problems with the government censors, so that is why this became a ‘guerilla shoot.” With the new technologies, the smaller cameras, we were able to get right into the neighborhoods, with not a lot of notice.”

Issawi notes that the film, “deals with many of the problems that the young people in Egypt are having, the issues that started the revolution. We screened the film in Dubai, and received a lot of criticism from the Egyptian government. They wanted to know why we only showed the problems, no solutions. That is because there are no solutions, other than leaving, which of course is what the characters in this film debate.”

When asked if he thought this film will help – or open up – the discussions of better relations between Christians and Muslims, Issawi said that “Perhaps, yes. This is a very sensitive issue for people in Egypt, but they don’t often talk about it. Currently this film is banned in Egypt. We hope to show it to the government censors and perhaps they will approve it. But meanwhile we have brought it here, where we know it can be seen. “

Cairo Exit is playing at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York this Tuesday April 26 at 6:45 p.m. at the Chelsea Cinemas and again on Friday April 29 at 9:30 p.m. at the same location. Go herefor the full schedule. Be aware that even if a film is sold out, there are often ‘rush’ tickets available at the last minute.

The Tribeca Film Festival is an entertaining and highly diverse film festival – which is only a short train ride away on the MetroNorth New Haven line – and offers Connecticut residents an incredible variety of new films to watch, close to home – from full length features to documentaries to short films from all over the world – as well as film panels with screenwriters, directors and actors, and a host of special events. It is worth going into Manhattan and enjoying this festival; most of the films are interesting and buzz worthy.

Other Tribeca Film reviews:

Last Night– a wonderful, insightful film about relationships and faithfulness with Keira Knightley and Sam Worthington. Also available on demand from Cablevision.

The Good Doctor – an interesting melodrama about physicians and patients, starring Orlando Bloom (Pirates of the Caribbean, Lord of the Rings)

Cairo Exit – a modern Romeo and Juliet story, set in Egypt. Amal is Christian, her boyfriend Tarek is Muslim; their fates tied to a homeland that does not support their love.

Blackthorn – a film that lets us enjoy one more fine adventure with an aged Butch Cassidy, as he reconciles his past and teams up with a stranger in his quest to head home to the son he has never met.

Underwater Love – a strange, eccentric movie, best only of those who enjoy the ‘pink’ Japanese film genre.

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