11 Underrated Egyptian Movies That We Think Everyone Should Watch

By: Salma Gharraf

In the Egyptian movie-making industry, we’ve seen a fair amount of Sobky productions – either comedy or action tbh (where a belly dancer who can’t even act plays a role, just to dance in the end at a wedding or a party or the story just repeats itself and we’re forced to watch the same scenario over and over again, just with different faces). I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with these stories, but sometimes they can be pretty boring. Kesas mahroosa mel akher w shofna menha ketyr, and honestly, not relatable khales and some of them don’t even represent the society we live in all that well. 

So, here is a list of 11 movies that almost didn’t make it to TV because… well, they tackled hagat that one could categorize as too controversial. But tbh, this is precisely why these movies caught our eyes. They’re both eye-opening and scandalous – in the best of ways. This is the movie list you want if you’re looking to be more socially cultured. You’ll find most of them on Shahid and/or Netflix. 

Tal2 Sena3y

Hussein, a simple man, went with his wife, Heba, to the American embassy hoping to go to the US and have their child there. But after getting rejected, yet again. He decides that he’s had enough, and decides that this baby should get to be an American citizen no matter what. So, he locks himself and everyone else in the embassy. A weapon in hand, with his wife giving birth there! 

We get to see different people, all Egyptians, who have lived different stories and have different reasons to seek a life in the US. We also get to see how far these people are willing to go to get the American citizenship, as well as witness the difference in the treatment the American authorities offer their citizens as opposed to the treatment Egyptians receive. I love how the movie portrayed such a serious problem in a funny and comedic manner, amidst all the drama and danger, you’ll find yourself unable to hold back your laughs. 

Starring: Maged Elkedawny, Houreya Farghali, Bayoumi Fouad, Sayed Ragab, Farrag, Mostafa Khater, Mohammed Alaa, May Kassab, Amr Saleh, Sally Abed, and more.

Photocopy

You know those stories of young sweet love? Well, this one is a bit different. It’s about finding love at an old age. This is the story of how Ostaz Mahmoud, the old owner of a photocopying shop, decides to live his life differently and not caring for his old age, all because of a report on dinosaurs!

If you want to see cute wholesome content that will make you smile and truly believe in “it’s never too late to find love”, then you should give this movie a shot.

Starring: Mahmoud Hemida, Sherine Reda, Ahmed Dash, Ali El Tayeb, Youssef Osman, Aida El Kashef, Bayoumi Fouad, and others.

Abl Za7met El Seif

The movie talks about Dr. Yehia and Magda, a married couple who went to the north coast early before the summer season, and their neighbor, madam Hala who got the attention of Yehia and Gom3a, a worker in the resort. They decided to go stay by the beach for a couple of days to escape their problems, but they find worse ones coming their way.

The movie is aimed to mock the elites of Egypt or the “bourgeoisie”. A lot of people though had a problem with Hana Sheha showing up in a bathing suit, and with some make-out scenes.

Starring: Hana Shiha, Maged Elkedwany, Ahmed Daoud and Lana Mushtaq.

Youm Lel Setat

This is the story of a new community pool made by the government for the people living in a poor, ghetto neighborhood. The women living there, go to the pool every Sunday, the day where the pool is theirs to enjoy and swim in. So they can forget, for a couple of hours, about their problems, about their hard lives, dance and play in the pool. 

The movie made me understand and get a real view of how privileged I am. The fact that I am free to go to the beach and swim in a pool, every summer without even planning to do so. While others could only dream of spending one day there. It got me thinking of how simple their lives are and how I take stuff for granted. And that’s the beauty of it I guess, how it humbles you and reminds you of an important trait we tend to forget: gratitude. It also portrays how misogynist the boys in these areas can be.

Starring: Nelly Karim, Elham Shahin, Nahed El Sebaie, Eyad Nassar, Mahmoud Hemeida, Ahmed El Fishawy, Farouk El Fishawy, Shaimaa Seif, Ahmed Dawood, and Hala Sedky.

El Deif

Dr. Yehia Fekry, a very famous intellectual and writer on religion and philosophy, receives a guest in his household, a guy who wants to marry his daughter. A big fan of Fekry’s work, he starts talking to him about his opinions and views concerning some religious and controversial ideas, and with each topic, the discussion turns into a heated argument, raising the tension in the air, and getting us more suspicious of this dude.

Starring: Khaled El Sawy, Sherin Reda, Jamila Aawad, and Ahmed Malek.

Sheikh Jackson

Jackson, an extremely religious man, and a former Micheal Jackson lover, suddenly feels his faith is shaken, right after hearing about the death of his old idol. All because he couldn’t cry while praying anymore. So, he reminisces of his past and his childhood, trying to figure out the core of the problem with his therapist, Dr. Nour.

I like this movie because it represents religious people, who are often portrayed as angels, as imperfect humans just like us. It shows us that they too are weak and can love what they consider “haram”. I also like the change and evolution that Jackson goes through before our eyes on the screen. Fishawy’s commitment to the role and his facial expressions are just on point.

Starring: Ahmed Elfishawy, Amina Khalil, Dorra Zarouk, Maged Elkedwany, Ahmed Malek, Salma Abu Deif, and Yasmeen Raeis.

3eyar Nary

A mysterious murder happens in a neighborhood, where the witnesses’ statements and the medical results of the autopsy that are run by a drunk doctor don’t match but are rather contradictory, the doctor gets suspicious and decides to get to the bottom of it.

I like this movie. It sets a mood of suspense, drama, and even a bit of horror. And the ending is pretty surprising and unexpected. 

Starring: Ahmed El Fishawy, Mohammed Mamdouh, Ruby, Ahmed Malek, Asmaa Abulyazid, and Aarfa Abdelrasoul.

Nawwara

Nawwara, a hardworking, loyal and sweet young lady, works as a servant in a huge, luxurious mansion for a filthy rich family in Mountain View, in hopes of raising enough money to buy or even rent a small flat, to live in with her husband, whom she’s been married to for 5 years. With the revolution coming along the way, the man she works for is forced to leave the country and they order her to stay in the house, taking care of it for a couple of days, making it look like they haven’t left the place and fled the country.

If you have a servant at home, have you ever wondered what kind of place she lives in? how far away it is from your house? How long does it take her to reach your place? How is she able to work for several hours where you live, leave late at night and take the same route she took in the morning then come back early in the morning to do it all again? Well, Nawwara answers all these questions. Nawwara shows you neighborhoods you’ve probably never seen, where a long walk, with two big heavy gallons filled with water, is necessary every day to find something to drink. The movie shows how hard life can be, and how hard it is not to rob to earn some decent money. It also shows how frustrating and unfair governmental services like hospitals can be and how some people struggle to find a place to treat them. Menna Chalabi played this role perfectly.

Starring: Menna Shalabi, Ameer Salah El Din, Ahmed Rateb, Sherin Reda, Mahmoud Hemida, Ragaa Hussein, Abbas Aboulhassan, Rahma, and Ahmed Magdy.

Asmaa

This movie is a must-watch! It discusses one of the biggest social stigmas, not just in Egypt but in several other countries. This movie tackles AIDS/HIV.

Based on a true story in Egypt, Asmaa is a 40-year-old mother, who is infected with HIV. As she told the doctors in the operating room about her illness right before her surgery, the doctors refuse to treat her, which causes her condition to worsen. And so, she debates whether she should go on TV and expose those doctors (and her story at the same time). She thinks about the consequences of doing so and that doing just that means that she exposes herself along with the doctors. She thinks of what people might say, how it may affect her daughter’s life and where her health stands in all of this mess. Flashbacks on her life, back in Banha, when she was young, reveal how she got infected. 

The movie will make you super emotional, will show you how much love a person could have for another, and what extents they would go to for them. It tells you to say a big “Fuck you” to society, and what people might say, that you shouldn’t worry that much about what will happen because doing whatever the fuck you want will be worth it. The movie also shows the viewer that health should always come first, before anything!

Starring: Hend Sabri, Maged Elkedwany, Hany Adel, and Sayyed Raggab.

18 Youm

These are a couple of short movies, put together, to narrate the 2011 revolution. Different lives, different stories, different endings, and fates, all during that period.

Business owners, protestors, detainees, policemen, civilians who had nothing to do with the revolution, those who were paid to take the president’s side, and the lives of others that are shown during those tragic 18 days. It’s extremely touching. it will raise many questions in your head and will get you even more curious and interested in what’s going to happen, in the next scenario.

You won’t find this movie anywhere except youtube.

Starring: Ahmed Helmy, Amr Waked, Mona Zaki, Hend Sabri, Ahmed El Fishawy, Eyad Nassar, Asser Yassin, Bassem Samra, Amy Samir Ghanem, Nahed El Sebaei, Mohammed Mamdouh and Mohammed Tharwat.

Eshtebak

It’s 2013, during the revolution, almost a dozen, maybe even more, are trapped all together in the back of a police van, some are pro-Muslim brotherhood, others are anti, and two others are half American, half Egyptian journalists. All of them are trying to get out of there and go home.

The movie is so, so good. You can sense the characters؛ struggle, as if you’re there with them in the van, feeling their pain and suffering. It’s very symbolic and did the revolution good tbh.

Starring: Nelly Karim, Hany Adel, Ahmed Dash, Ahmed Malek, Tarek Abdel Aziz, May El Ghety, Khaled Kamal, Hosny Sheta, Ashraf Hamdi, Mohammed Alaa and others.

And I saved the best for last:

Kafr Na7oum

Although it’s not an Egyptian movie, it just had to be added to this list.

This is the story of Zain, a young Lebanese boy, living in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Lebanon. Living with half a dozen siblings and his parents, without any papers or any birth certificates, he’s forced to work in a supermarket to help provide for his family. What’s the problem? Zain is charged with a 5-year sentence because he stabbed someone! And as we discover what lead him to do that, we come across many societal issues and problems that happen to this day. 

This movie is so amazing, I loved every second of it (and well, cried during every second of it). From underage marriage to human trafficking, forced labor for children, and living undocumented, this movie has got it all unfiltered, uncut, with all its mess. You’ll honestly feel pity for every character in the story, and you’ll fall in love with Zain.

And now we’re done! I guarantee that you won’t be wasting your time if you decide to watch any of these movies. « piece of advice: watch them with your parents/older siblings, it will be the start of many interesting conversations you’ve probably never had with them before (or a screamfest of epic proportions).

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