Cairo in One Breath

Cairo in One Breath
Genre
: Documentary | Director: Anna Kipervaser | Language: Arabic, English Subtitles | Length: 79 minutes | Country: Egypt | Year: 2015 | Rating: NR

The adhan is the Muslim call to prayer, an invitation to sacred space traditionally performed by a muezzin at a mosque five times each day. Cairo has thousands of mosques, and with countless muezzins chanting the call simultaneously there is a holy cacophony that reverberates through the city’s soundscape. Enter the Ministry of Religious Endowments with the concept of a unified adhan, a single call from one muezzin broadcast from a central studio to a network of mosques, each relaying the adhan through its own sound system. This beautiful and timely film is full of rich details of everyday life and maintains a quiet respect for the range of opinions voiced on either side of this somewhat unpopular edict. In a culture still unsettled by recent revolution, the idea of any kind of unification is controversial, and the loss of local traditions and individual voices is deeply felt.

For more information about the film and multimedia project, click here.

NCSCOS Essential Standards: WH.H.8.2

I am the People

I am the People
Genre:
Documentary | Director: Anna Roussillon | Language: Arabic, English Subtitles | Length: 110 minutes | Country: Egypt | Year: 2014 | Rating: NR

January 2011 in Egypt was marked by anti-government demonstrations. While tens of thousands of protesters gathered in Cairo, poor villagers in the country’s south followed the tense situation on Tahrir Square on their TV screens and in the daily newspapers. It is from their perspective that this documentary captures the political changes in Egypt, from the toppling of President Mubarak to the election of Mohamed Morsi. The film reveals the villagers’ hopes and disappointments, and shows that despite the wild events, very little has actually changed in their lives.

NCSCOS Essential Standards: WH.H.8.2, WH.H.8.6

Koran by Heart: One Chance to Remember

Koran by Heart: One Chance to Remember
Genre:
Documentary | Director: Greg Barker | Language: English, Arabic, English Subtitles | Length: 90 minutes | Country: Egypt, Global | Year: 2011 | Rating: NR

There is a passage in the Qur’an that says if you memorize the Qur’an and teach it to others, you will be successful in this life and the next life.” In Koran by Heart, the young scholar who says this has already committed the entire Muslim holy book to memory. He has also earned a place in the Islamic world’s oldest Qur’an memorization contest—though he’s only ten.

Every year, about 100 of Islam’s best young students from around the world come to Cairo for the International Holy Koran Competition. Many are in their late teens, some as young as seven. Koran by Heart follows the progress of three scholars, a girl and two boys, all ten years old, as they compete against students who, in some instances, are nearly twice their age.

Koran by Heart captures the skill, determination, and faith of the young competitors, but never lets the viewer forget that they are children: the solemn girl we watch as she accepts a prize from the president of Egypt is the same high-spirited kid who squeals with delight on her first camel ride.

Viewing guide and related resources available here (Muslim Journeys | Item #308: “, August 21, 2015 http://bridgingcultures.neh.gov/muslimjourneys/items/show/308.)

Available for free streaming online here.

NCSCOS Essential Standards:  6.C.1.1, 6.C.1.2, 7.C.1.2, WH.H.2.5