Mohamed Khan – A visionary Egyptian film maker
Mohamed Khan, (born on 26-10-1942), an Egyptian film director, script writer, and actor died on 26-7-2016 in Cairo following a short illness. He was one of the eminent film makers who led the 80’s wave of social realism in Arab cinema. Born to a Pakistani father, and a British/Egyptian mother, he left Cairo in 1956 to study architectural design in London. Years of fascination with the world of cinema, living in London in the swinging 60’s and a friendship with a neighbour, a film student, made him abandon architecture, and switch to studying film at the London School of Film Technique in 1962.
After a few years of working as an assistant director in Lebanon, and a script consultant in the General Egyptian Film Organization, he made his first film ‘Heat stroke, 1978’ which premiered at the Montreal Film Festival.
His films portrayed the lives of recognizable characters from Egyptian society, with an emphasis on marginalized people. His fresh cinematic style of telling stories, outside the confines of film studios, with a richly-detailed social and political background- endeared him to the public and critics alike. A succession of influential films crossed over to international audience and festivals earning prestigious awards. ‘Dreams of Hind and Kamilia, 1988’- is quoted in the list of the 100 landmark films in Egyptian cinema.
Khan refused to be described as a social reformer, he preferred to ‘underline the social ills, rather than offer answers or cure’, https://soundcloud.com/bmjpodcasts/mohamed-khan-egyptian-screenwriter-and-director-on-what-clinicians-can-gain-from-his-films)
He adapted literary classics such as F. Scott Fitzgerald ‘The great Gatsby’ in ‘Desire, 1980’, and H. E. Bates ‘The darling buds of May’ in ‘Gone and never come back, 1984’.
Fascinated by women stories; ‘A dinner date, 1982’, ‘Downtown girls, 2005’, ‘In the Heliopolis flat, 2007’, and ‘Factory girl, 2014’ his films appealed to several generations.
As a tribute, the Arab British Centre and the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in London will screen his last film ‘Before the summer crowds’ on 14th September 2016, http://www.arabbritishcentre.org.uk/safar-2016/full-programme-listing/.
Khalid Ali, Screening room editor