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Promoting film as art and entertainment since 1958

SFS Talkies / World Cinema Series: Cairo Station

When 9 October 2007 (Tuesday), 7.30 pm
Where National Museum of Singapore, Gallery Theatre
93 Stamford Road Singapore 178897

Free admission for Singapore Film Society members. Tickets for the public: $8 / $6.40 concession.
Counter Sales: Stamford Visitor Services Counter: 10am – 8pm; Canning Visitor Services Counter: 10am – 5pm. Online Booking: (click on Online Booking tab at the bottom of the webpage). Ticketing Information: 6332 3659. General Enquiries: 6332 5642. Patrons are advised that valid identity pass is required for all screenings.


World Cinema Series


A programme of the National Museum Cinémathèque

Co-presented by National Museum of Singapore and the Singapore Film Society

World Cinema Series is a monthly screening of works by the boldest and most inventive auteurs from the history of cinema.

This series charts both the significant and less discovered territories of cinema - from the early silent era to underground films, and new wave film movements around the world, by some of the greatest mavericks and artists of film.

Discover the wonders and possibilities of the art of cinema on the big screen – as it was meant to be seen – with the World Cinema Series, shown every second Tuesday of the month at the National Museum of Singapore.

The series kicked off in September with the screening of Imamura Shohei’s stunning epic, The Profound Desire of the Gods (1968).  Look out for King Hu’s A Touch of Zen (1969) in November and Charles Burnett's Killer of Sheep (1977) in December.

Cairo Station / Bab el hadid

Dir: Youssef Chahine
1958 / Egypt / 74 min / 35 mm / PG
(in Arabic with English subtitles)

Denounced by Egyptian audiences when it was first released in 1958, Youssef Chahine's Cairo Station was banned by the authorities for twelve years and was only later rediscovered and recognised as one of the first, great masterpieces of Egyptian cinema.

Incorporating elements of neo-realism, melodrama, comedy and film noir, Cairo Station uses the location of Cairo’s central station to represent a cross-section of the Egyptian society caught in a collision between tradition and modernity. The film features shots of Egyptian women in both Hijabs and tight Capri pants and stalls that sell American junk food alongside traditional Arab sweets. In one scene, the sight of teenagers drinking Coca-Cola and dancing provokes a Muslim cleric to proclaim, “All of these newfangled ideas lead to hell.”

The story recounts the doomed passion of a crippled newspaper seller Kinawi, played by Chahine himself, who decorates his shabby cabin with pictures of scantily clad women. Kinawi falls in love with Hanuma, a voluptuous soft-drink seller. However, Hanuma is engaged to the tough and hardworking porter Abu Sri, who is attempting to set up a union for exploited railway workers. When Kinawi tries to woo Hanuma with an offer of a simple life in the village with cows and children, she rebukes him with the line, "We've gotten used to trains and noise." Hanuma’s rejection and her unrestrained sexuality inadvertently enflames Kinawi’s obsession and further weakens his grip on reality. He descends into a spiral of jealousy, psychosis and violence.

Made in the aftermath of the Suez Crisis, Cairo Station is a striking commentary on the duality and division in Egyptian society of that time. It had a huge influence on African and Arab cinema, introducing neo-realism into an industry previously dominated by musicals. The film was nominated for a Golden Bear at the 1958 Berlin International Film Festival.

A post-screening discussion will be led by Yousry Elsayed Mansou, a graduate from The Higher Institute of Cinema in Egypt (in 1981) and an ex-student of Youseff Chahine.Yousry Elsayed Mansou is currently a filmmaker and director based in Singapore.

Biography: Youssef Chahine

One of Egypt’s most eminent and controversial filmmakers, Youssef Chahine has a prodigious output of over forty films and a career spanning over more than five decades in Egyptian cinema. Born in 1926 to Lebanese parents, Chahine attended the prestigious Victoria College and studied theatre and acting at the Pasadena Playhouse before returning to Cairo to focus on film directing.

In 1951, he made his first two films Father Amine / Baba Amin and Son of the Nile / Ibn el Nil. With his second film, he was nominated for the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival. From the very beginning, Chahine’s films have been marked by a strong personal vision and individuality in both subject matter and technique. They are known for their incisive critique of the Arab society, often using historical events from both the past and contemporary as the subject for his films. Chahine enjoyed experimenting with different genres even within the same film, creating startlingly original and innovative films that were often also highly well-received.

Chahine gained international attention with Cairo Station / Bab el hadid (1958), creating a furore in Egypt with its stark depiction of repression and sexuality within the lower class. Many of Chahine’s films like Saladin / El-Naser Salah el Dine (1963) and The Land / Al-Ard (1969) are often mentioned in many critics’ list of the greatest Egyptian films made.

In 1997, his work was honoured at the 50th Cannes Film Festival with a lifetime achievement award. He is also credited for discovering some of the most prominent Egyptian actors and actresses like Omar Sharif and Nadia Lutfi.