Shaheen came to Iraq at the head of an Egyptian popular delegation in 1998 to show solidarity with him during the siege imposed on him in the nineties of the last century.
Shaheen – who died on July 27, 2008 – visited Iraq more than once and presented his films as a gift to the Iraqi Cinema Foundation, so that the artistic relationship between him and the Iraqi artists would remain. His film “The Bird” was brought to Baghdad after it was banned from showing it for the first time in Egypt and some Arab countries, but Iraq bought it for a large sum.
victory for the Iraqis
The Iraqi actor and playwright, Dr. Maymoon al-Khalidi, told Al Jazeera Net that Shaheen came to Iraq at the head of an Egyptian popular delegation in 1998 to show solidarity with him during the siege imposed on him in the 1990s and accompanied him as a representative of the Iraqi Artists Syndicate. Shaheen said at the time, “We came to support the Iraqi people, not their government, because we refuse to starve the people.”
Al-Khalidi stressed that Shaheen is a thoughtful director who raises questions that discuss the conditions of peoples, and cinema was his great concern and cares about young people and supports their cinematic steps, and is characterized by his lightness and kindness in human interaction.
He refused to direct an Iraqi movie
For his part, director Azzam Salih recounts his memories of Shaheen’s visit to the Academy of Fine Arts in Baghdad, noting that the late artist refused to direct a film about Iraq, and said that “the people of Baghdad know its people, and the filmmakers of Iraq are more deserving of me.”
Saleh indicated that he was directing the Iraqi movie “The Long Days” at the time, and Shaheen visited the filming site, and was sitting in the club on the stage, speaking as if he was in a press conference, and also watched the movie “Vision Now” by Coppola at Semiramis Cinema on Al-Saadoun Street in central Baghdad.
Shaheen also visited the Society of Age and Civilization, a student gathering at the Academy of Arts in Baghdad, and hosted a number of Arab artists and directors such as Tawfiq Saleh, Salah Abu Seif, Yahya Shaheen and Ahmed Abbas Saleh. Shaheen was friendly and discussed in a high spirit and was not disturbed by criticism.
As for Khayriyah Al-Mansour, the first Iraqi director in Iraqi cinema, and she worked as an assistant to Shaheen in a number of his films, she describes the late director as the teacher educator, so that her work was focused and remained in his orbit.
Khairiya Al-Mansour told Al-Jazeera Net that her acquaintance with Shaheen dates back to the eighties of the 20’s, and she published a book about him entitled (Youssef Chahine’s intellectual cocoon). She worked with him as an assistant director in the films “Haduta Masriya”, “Alexandria Kaman Wakman”, “Al-Masir” and “Kolha Khutwa”.
She added, “Shahin was writing the script for the movie “Egyptian Story” in the scene intellectually, and believed that cinema is a tool for change that does not give a ready-made solution, and the viewer has to think and make his decision, so his cinema was called the cinema of intellectuals,” and felt it as a guide under the weight of truth, and the duty of delivering it to the viewer in a manner A cinematographer with him is a thinker and a creator of solutions.
Khayriya believes that Shaheen liberated cinema from boring and chatty classics, and points out that his dialogues are few and focused, and he engages the recipient with him, pointing out that he spent several months with paper writing the text, and then decoupage and the script and the executive script, drawing and determining the time of the shot.
And she indicated in her speech to Al-Jazeera Net: “Shahin taught me a lot, and impressed me very much, I read the text in theory and then I see the application in practice, and it is an opportunity and study that is not available in the educational institute, and my faith in him was increasing daily because of his honesty and love for work.”
And she continues, “During the unveiling of the filming locations, we were quick and active and did not get tired or bored, and as described by critics – the founder of the current of openness and self-accounting in the new Arab cinema, stresses the individual values of individual, original and unique thought. In the face of destructive ideas, Shaheen stood with the Iraqi people in the ordeal of the siege. He brought medicines for his children, stood with his thoughts against the imperialist countries, and dedicated all his films to the Iraqi Cinema Foundation.
Khairiah added, “Shaheen stuck to me when my circle asked me to return to Iraq, at the end of the movie “Egyptian story.” He insisted that I stay until the end and travel with him to France to print the film, and at festivals he would ask me to attend, as in the Venice Festival in Italy.
She points out that when she directed the Iraqi film “Six on Six”, I carried the script to Cairo for him, and he read it and said, “My efforts were not in vain, but I was the best educated person in my team.”
Shaheen and experimentation
As for the director, Dr. Tariq Al-Jubouri, he recounts his memories with Shaheen when he visited the Academy of Fine Arts and conducted an open dialogue with film students, noting that Shaheen came to market his movie “The Bird”, and I got acquainted with his movie “Gamila Buhaird” at the age of 13, and I liked the movie “Struggle in the Valley”, I was very impressed with the movie “The Iron Gate”, which contradicts its stereotyped films.
Al-Jubouri added: “Shahin continued to live obsessively with experimentation, which weakened his style, lost his identity, and mixed his silence. During the dialogue, the poor sound in his films was raised with him. He attributed this to the technical defect and the lack of quality of the recording and presented the technology used, and in response to the actors’ imitation of Shaheen’s tone of voice, he said that this It’s because he teaches them to perform.”
Al-Jubouri points out that Shaheen complained during that dialogue about the lack of funding and was upset by the lack of funders, and was disturbed by considering his films as not window films, and considered adventure and waste of money, such as the films “Farewell Bonaparte” and “Alexandria .. Why?”, and confirmed that Shaheen rode the wave of change towards The new experimental cinema in the footsteps of Italian director Federico Fellini.