Three deaths, one tragic year: Arab cinema in sad state

Published August 13th, 2015 - 03:03 GMT

In the past few months, Arabic cinema lost three giants; great actors whose art shaped the region’s movie scene for five decades. Faten Hamama passed away in January, Omar Sharif in July and on Tuesday we lost Nour Al Sharif, who died following a long battle with illness. The loss of Al Sharif, an award-winning cinema, theatre and television actor, left many wondering about the state of the Arabic cinema, which has been on the downside for some time. Many of Al Sharif’s generation of the so-called '€˜method-acting’ have actually quit cinema and moved to the more coherent TV industry, due to lack of decent scripts or sufficient financing, especially from state bodies that are involved with sponsoring art and culture.

Major studios are now looking for quick returns on their investments by producing populist films with the ‘right’ formula — singing and dancing and a few action scenes. The well-rounded drama films have been steadily disappearing. Thus, stars like Al Sharif, Mahmoud Abdul Aziz, Yusra and Mirvat Amin have abandoned cinema to a new breed of actors who are physically fit for the new films genre, but without the necessary talent to act and deliver the message.

The state of Arabic cinema obviously reflects the wider art scene in the region. With chaos on the streets in many countries and extremist ideologies gaining ground in some societies, in addition to the reluctance of states to invest in the art, the Arab world is sadly losing a fundamental part of its raison d’etre: art. And that’s absolutely tragic.

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