The best-known video-on-demand platform has just launched a campaign to “celebrate Arab cinema”. With the addition of 58 Arab films to its catalogue, Netflix intends to show the world all the greatness and quality of the region’s cinema, between recent nuggets and classics to be rediscovered… If we can’t go round the whole library, which is rich in the works of renowned Arab filmmakers such as Nadine Labaki or Elia Suleiman, here are some selected pieces.
Lift like a girl (2020)
Directed by Mayye Zayed, this is an Egyptian documentary film, which traces the intimate journey into the inner life of a budding weightlifter.
Thanks to the advice of her coach, the teenager from a small training camp allows herself to dream of the high level competitions in Alexandria. Through the adventures of Zebiba (14), the film questions the place of women in Egyptian society, tracing her victories and defeats as she overcomes the prejudices of a sport dominated by men.
Cairo Station (1958)
Titled Bab al-Hadid in Arabic, this Egyptian film directed by Youssef Chahine was first released in 1958, before being reborn in a restored version in 2018. Made entirely in black and white, this film, upon its release, challenged all the conventions of popular cinema to present a social drama whose unique location would be Cairo’s central train station. Loaded with suspense, it tells the story of a newsagent who has a disturbing fixation on a drinks saleswoman, even as the threat of a serial killer terrorizes the city. Thrilling!
Very Big Shot (2015)
Screened at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival, this dark Lebanese film, directed by Mir-Jean Bou Chaaya, tells the story of three drug-dealing brothers who want to get back on the right track. But as is often the case, their boss is not very cooperative. Moreover, the arrival of a large shipment of drugs, and the plan of an ambitious coup, make the situation inextricable. Get out the popcorn!