Amr Gamal, architect of the revival of cinema and theater in southern Yemen

Amr Gamal, architect of the revival of cinema and theater in southern Yemen


In Yemen, the choice of the film which was to be sent to the Oscars did not cause turbulence, as in France. There weren’t thirty-six possibilities: Les Lueurs d’Aden , Amr Gamal’s second feature film, released in theaters on January 31, stood out and will represent the small country that never stops growing. be undermined by wars and internal conflicts. A couple, overwhelmed by rising prices and a fragile daily life (power cuts, public schools running out of steam, etc.), are expecting their fourth child, but no longer have enough money to raise him properly. Ahmed and Isra will do everything to terminate this pregnancy, in a country where abortion is prohibited.

The director and director, born in 1983, films and creates shows to document his country, or rather his city of Aden. Remotely, from the Pune festival, east of Bombay, India, where he presented his film in competition, Amr Gamal tells us about his incredible self-taught journey.

He was born in Poland, to Yemeni parents, and it was only in 1989 that his family settled in Aden. He was 6 years old. The city was alive, but it didn’t last long. For the record, since 1967, after the departure of the British colonists, South Yemen had proclaimed itself the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen, and lined up behind the Soviet Union. In 1990, the north and south of the country were reunified, under the authority of president and dictator Ali Abdallah Saleh (1947-2017) – who was overthrown in 2012 in the wake of the “Arab Spring”.

“A huge burst of nostalgia”

In the 1990s, an Islamist wave swept away cinemas and theaters in Aden, which all closed. “The film reels and all the filming equipment were taken to the north of the country , explains Amr Gamal. I saw this with my child’s eyes, I was sad. I was like, “Why are they doing this to my town?” From that moment on, I wanted to document, to keep track. »

The young man learned cinema on the job . “I studied engineering while doing theater with a collective. We created plays, then I was offered to shoot series. » Amr Gamal directed a first feature film in 2018, Ten Days Before the Wedding , also teleported to the Oscars, but it still had to be screened in Aden. “We rented two wedding halls, and in each of them we hung a large wooden panel, painted white, to make a screen. Word of mouth spread, and we sold 70,000 tickets. The film was shown for eight months! As soon as you say “cinema”, in Aden, people come, it’s like a huge burst of nostalgia. »

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