“The programming at the Mostra [São Paulo International Film Festival] was remarkable, yet by festival’s end I preferred five films above all. They take place within the Egyptian slum of Mafrouza, in Alexandria, where the French filmmaker Emmanuelle Demoris stayed between 2002 and 2004. The series forms a documentary record of the neighborhood’s residents, relocated after the government demolished Mafrouza in 2007 to expand an industrial port. But the films also work with the density and complexity of great fiction, offering people with nuanced, self-aware, self-contradictory, always-evolving inner lives.”

Aaron Cutler, SLANT MAGAZINE/THE MOVIEGOER (Best of 2011)

“A film with this many intertwining lives and stories, requiring far-sighted considerations made in both shooting and editing, is a downright miracle.”


“The five episodes found a documentary epic genre that is unheard of and magnificent. These twelve hours spent the furrows of poverty, in this necropolis populated by large lives, have priceless political value.”

Philippe Azoury LIBERATION

“The magnitude of a true saga.”


“The opposite of poverty pornography, or of well-intentioned socio-ethnographic pedagogy. Everyone we discover in the presence of the camera is a conscious subject, with an individual story. The film places us in a relationship with each. And on the bridge between the viewer and the place shown by the camera, which is never entirely crossed, Mafrouza arrives at a point that few other films have ever reached.”


“Twelve hours? We barely notice the time passing. A documentary? Rather, this is an extraordinary cinematic experience. And let’s note the means by which the film explodes any gloomy presuppositions on the subject: Warmth, beauty, music, humour, intelligence, pride, sharing, impudence. One might also mention, from the outset, the exceptional nature of what is shown: the people, incarnated in all their suffering and their joy, in their impertinence and their dignity, that which the general system of images does not acknowledge; life itself, celebrated with a carnivalesque frenzy, a disorder of devotion and truculence, all the way to the waste in a social rubbish dump. All this in short is what makes Mafrouza a world film, a monster film, a shock film, a film the likes of which we have almost never seen.”

Jacques Mandelbaum LE MONDE

[read more…]


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