The National Film School of Denmark
Denmark, 2008, 28’ Arabic with Italian subtitles
At the far end of a dark Cairo alley lies a smoky café that never closes – and never sleeps. Elabo- rate murals cover the nicotine-stained walls. Shi- sha pipes lurk on the saw-dusted floor. Time has slowed in this dusty domain, where Egyptian men from all walks of life come to drink coffee, smoke and talk – or just sit in silence. At one of the café tables we find a young poet, Ahmad Haddad, whose legacy weighs heavily on his ly- rical shoulders. He is the grandson of two legen- dary Arabic poets, Salah Jahin and Fouad Haddad. Ahmad quietly sips his tea and expres- ses an insomniac mood: etched by conversations and writing, he tries to stay awake at night.
The scene is set for the multitude of Arabic de- stinies that converge on this murky city oasis: from the ancient-looking Bedouin to the young guns in tracksuits, from the humble shoeshine boy to shiny-suited lawyer constantly on his cell phone. Regulars chats among men, tales of bro- ken dreams of sensual women, stolen kisses, lost fortunes and hopes, scene by scene, this film is a poetic insight into modern Muslim society and si- multaneously a universal tale of male existence.