Presented by Piluka Perona, Arga sympathizer and member of Solidari@s con Itoiz.
An-Nil oual hayat
Egypt-USSR, 1964, 109 min, DCP, colour, Arabic-Russia
Nasser called the Aswan High Dam a “pyramid for the living”. He was obviously appealing to grandeur, but the funerary side of the term prevailed. The valley’s black silt (mentioned even in our childhood textbooks) was stopped in its tracks, and salt water from the sea poured into the delta; Abu Simbel was moved but not the houses of the Nubians, who were forced to resettle to villages in dwellings, identical to each other, like barracks. In Youssef Chahine’s film this story is narrated, without a trace of official versions, nor a sad appearance of the Nasser-Kruschev duo. Both governments censored the film. Chahine was interested in the people at the bottom, for justice, surely, and perhaps because they are simply more interesting, because as you climb up from the bottom neurosis eats away everything, and neurosis just leads to a mental blackout. Thinking, however, the complete opposite to neurotic bustle, “does you good”, as the Soviet engineer Nikolai tells his Nubian friend Barak. They meet while bathing for the last time in the waters of the old Nile and their encounter radiates such physical joy... Chahine loves men and sympathises with women. He invents a multitude of main characters; he does a great deal with the languages involved and resolves in one sonorous stroke the pledge to take us from Aswan to Stalingrad. The greatness is in his film, which preserves apparent, ordinary beauty, just as the adult-child of Desna wanted.