Screening: In Memoriam: Tawfik Saleh (1926-2013) Retrospective: Fool's Alley

Tue, February 25, 2014 7:00 pm at Alwan for the Arts

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"Cinema is a tool for change not a tool for instilling backwardness and titillating the emotions of the audience before sleep with all the wishes of happy dreams."
-Tawfik Saleh

FOOLS’ ALLEY (Darb el mahâbîl)
Tawfik Saleh, Egypt, 1955, 95 mins (Arabic with English Subtitles)

Tawfik Saleh’s feature debut, Fool's Alley is based on a story by Naguib Mahfouz and chronicles the misadventures of a working-class Cairo enclave whose inhabitants go crazy when the neighborhood nut wins the lottery. The film juxtaposes social commentary - the destructive power of money over the simple and unschooled - onto the frame of a traditional love story. A successful early take on Egyptian realism, concerning a young man who is saving up to marry his boss’s daughter but when the money becomes available, the neighborhood is turned upside-down, revealing everyone’s true colors.

Suggested Contribution
General Admission $10 | Students, Seniors, Members $5

Doors open at 6:30pm

About the Director
Tawfik Saleh, born in 1926 in Alexandria, is considered as one of the chief frontrunners of Egyptian realist cinema, his active years as a director were confined between 1955 and 1980 in which he directed seven short films and seven full-length feature films. Graduating from the English Literature department at the University of Alexandria, Saleh then travelled to Paris on a scholarship to train in cinema. His intellectual cinematic vision resonates throughout all of his work and deals with the themes of social injustice, underdevelopment, political abuse and class struggle, this output set him apart from the commercial cinema of his country. Salah’s unique critical awareness is reflected in his work and encompasses the Arab societies in crisis. Consequently, he often came up against harsh censorship and bureaucracy.

Saleh epitomised the wandering Arab intellectual. After he left Egypt due to cronyism and harsh censorship, he went to Syria only to be faced with the same decaying bureaucratic system to the extent that authorities ordered him to leave the country within 48 hours. However, the decision was later revoked, and Saleh was allowed to stay until his contract ended. Later, being jobless, his debts mounting, he was obliged to accept a job teaching cinema in Iraq.

Noted for declaring that one of his aspirations was to find a cinematic language that could be identified as especially Egyptian, all of Saleh’s films present a problem without offering a solution and depict his protagonists as losers in the end. According to the renowned Lebanese film critic Ibrahim Al-Arees Saleh said: "Art isn't an answer. It's a question." His recent demise marks the end of an era of high-flying aspirations, crushed dreams and harrowing defeats in field of cinema.


This project is made possible in part with public funds from NYSCA’s' Electronic Media and Film Presentation Funds grant program, administered by The ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes

About 3rd i NY

3rd I New York’s monthly film/video/media salon is designed by local filmmakers and cultural producers to showcase the works of independent media makers of South Asian, Central Asian, and Arab descent. Providing alternative forums for these filmmakers who often have few venues to showcase their work and whose cultures and histories are often demonized or misrepresented in mainstream media, not only increases their visibility, but also provides a social forum for peers and audiences to participate in an ongoing discussion.


3rdi NY Film Programming is made possible in part with public funds from the Fund for Creative Communities, supported by New York State Council on the Arts, and the Manhattan Community Arts Fund, supported by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, both in partnership with the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. Alwan for the Arts hosts our monthly screenings series. We are thankful to the SINGH Foundation for acting as our fiscal sponsor


Alwan's programs are made possible, in part, with public funds from the New York State Council of the Arts (NYSCA) and New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in Partnership with the City Council.


Last updated: 2014-04-07 18:29:04

Tawfik Saleh (1926-2013)
Tawfik Saleh (1926-2013)

Alwan for the Arts

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