The Sparrow (Al-Asfour)
(Youssef Chahine, 1972, 105 min, 35mm)
Arabic with English subtitles
In June 1967, Egypt’s defeat in the Six-Day War ushered in a period of widespread disillusionment as Egyptians struggled to reconcile the crushing military loss and the breakdown of leadership it represented with the postcolonial optimism that had buoyed the nation following its 1952 Revolution. Produced in the aftermath of the 1967 defeat, THE SPARROW presents renowned Egyptian auteur Youssef Chahine’s own reckoning with the broader systemic failures of postcolonial nationalism in Egypt. One of Chahine’s more experimental films, THE SPARROW interweaves overlapping subplots into a nonlinear narrative that centers on a major heist of machinery from a state-owned factory in rural Egypt. Written in collaboration with the leftist writer Lotfy Al-Khouli and featuring original music by the Sheikh Imam and Ahmed Fouad Negm, celebrated songwriters dedicated to Egypt’s working class, the film presents an incisive postmortem of revolutionary Egypt as it positions political corruption and stagnation—and the concomitant neglect and exploitation of Egypt’s poor and working-class—as failures on the magnitude of military defeat.
With an introduction by Sarah Dwider, NU Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Art history.
Presented in rare archival 35mm print courtesy of Arsenal – Institute for Film and Video Art