Egyptian scriptwriter and poet Medhat El-Adl said that Egyptian cinema today has enough potential to compete for Academy Awards—known as the Oscars—after 40 years of commercial movies; however, the film industry faces a difficult crisis today.

El-Adl is one of the most prominent scriptwriters of Egyptian movies and television series, and he released two collections of verse. His family—which owns El-Adl Group Company—is one of the largest in Egypt to produce art. El-Adl has participated with his generation of poets and authors in forming their generation’s trends and taste in art in the 1980s and 1990s, through the songs of prominent stars Amr Diab, Mohamed Fouad, Mohamed Mounir, and Samira Said. El-Adl wrote the script of the iconic Egyptian movie “Sa’eedi (Upper Egyptian) in the American University”, which recorded the highest revenue in the history of Egyptian cinema.

In an interview with Daily News Egypt, El-Adl talked about his nostalgia for old cinema. He also revealed the return of Sherihan to show business, as well as the story behind his new collection of verse called “Shubra Misr.” He spoke about the reasons for the decline of Egyptian cinema and accused the state of negligence.

Why do Egyptian films not compete for any Oscars?

Today, Egyptian movies can compete for Oscars. In the past 40 years, during which Egypt produced commercial movies, Egyptian cinema lacked the adequate technology (such as sound, lighting, and decoration) for any movie it produced to compete for an Oscar.

Moreover, the movies that are awarded an Academy Award in the Oscars ceremony are sometimes picked based on a political basis. For example, Chinese movies won the Oscars several times when the USA and China had close relations. Iran has now close political relations with the USA, so their movies started receiving Oscars. With all due respect to Iranian cinema—which does indeed produce great movies that deserve winning an Oscar—Egyptian cinema is more technologically and visually advanced.

If we have the advanced technology, then why do we not use it? Is it expensive?

We use advanced global technologies in shooting our movies like the Americans, but we have another crisis in the film industry itself: we have stopped producing good films. In fact, the cost of movies does not represent any problem, as an Oscar-winning Iranian movie was actually filmed on a set location and did not cost much. We have similar films, such as “One-Zero” directed by Kamla Abu Zekry, “Malek wa ketaba”, and other movies, which could win an Oscar if they were nominated.

Why have these films not been nominated for the award, if they really do deserve it?

Egyptian bureaucracy and industry are now different. In one of my poems, I talked about 20 cinema theatres in Shubra alone, but the whole country does not have this many now. The Egyptian film industry is suffering for several reasons, notably that the state is not aware of the film industry’s value as a soft power that forms the popular consciousness. There are also bureaucratic obstacles, as I exert huge efforts to complete the production of a single movie, while American cinema has the ability to promote their films all over the world. This, unfortunately, is a luxury Egyptian film producers do not have.

Iranian filmmakers have to smuggle their films to present them abroad. These aspects are taken into account when selecting the nominees for the award.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi stressed his appreciation for the value of art and film industry as a soft power. So what else do we need?

The conservative understanding of art controls the film industry. All decision makers believe that movies should promote virtues. I believe that it is not the movie’s job to do so and that perception limits the creativeness of filmmakers and forces them to undergo unnecessary battles.

I wrote a movie script called “The Monk”. I suffered a lot with the Censorship Authority, as well as the church, to receive the approval for the film, even though it has nothing to do with any religious teachings. The movie discusses the role of the cleric—should he speak to the people in the street or deliver the sermons inside his place atop a mountain? Why would the devil solicit me to commit sins when I am living inside the monastery on top of a mountain?

I visited the Monastery of St. Paul the Anchorite, and the monks there were very kind to me. However, they wanted me to write the movie from their point of view. The film industry does not work that way! Europe became very modern and advanced only after it got rid of the tutelage of the church. I feel that in Egypt today we still live in the Middle Ages, but in a different way.

The Syrian movie “White Helmets” won an Oscar award. What’s your take on that?

There is a sense of guilt towards Syria, so “White Helmets” won an Academy Award. No doubt the movie may be great, but being filmed in such difficult circumstances has given it more appeal, regardless of it being great or not. Imagine, an Iraqi movie—under the current circumstances faced by the Iraqi state—was nominated for an Oscar. This will definitely have an effect on the panel’s judges.

Syrian series have become a strong competitor to Egyptian ones. How do you see that?

Syria has more advanced historical series than Egypt, due to the large production funds offered by Arab producers, not the Syrians. We soon realised we should develop Egyptian series and started to use scriptwriters and directors to produce high-quality series. Those last five years managed to restore the position of Egyptian drama.

But we use Syrian actors in our movies, don’t we?

Of course. Egypt has an important hub for Arab actors since the last century, such as Sabah, Farid al-Atrash, and others.

We have a certain type of series like “The Legend”, which spread recently. How do you evaluate this type of series?

We have no other choice but to present the series and let the people choose. Finally, the good series would succeed.

But this does not happen?

Egyptian actor Mohamed Saad, for example, had achieved enormous success; however, his last movie did not succeed. On the other hand, Mohamed Ramadan was smart and chose a certain type of route to build a popular fan base. He then approached me and director Sherif Arafa and asked us to make something different. Adel Imam starred in similar movies, such as “Ramadan over the Volcano” and “Shaaban Sub-Zero”, and then he presented great movies like “Birds of Darkness” and “Terrorism and Kebab”.

How do you see the abilityt of state-owned TV series to compete with other works broadcast on satellite channels?

The Egyptian state-owned television has become miserable, and it has stopped producing good series because of a lack of financial resources. Actually, Egyptian television buys the series at very low prices.

What is the solution?

It needs urgent decisions. For example, there is a group of state channels called “Nile channels”. If I was the decision maker, I would have only two channels and close the others. However, the state television still has the opportunity to compete in the drama race, as “Channel 1” still has high viewership rates, thanks to the 9:00pm Bulletin.

We sometimes find good films with progressive ideas, but the film industry crises still exist. What is the reason in your opinion?

The problem lies in the state institutions. If you were lucky, you would find a good official with enlightening ideas, who would be eager to help you produce your movie as you like or maybe even better. This official may be replaced after a while with one who has a very different approach and very different ideologies. Regarding the control on art, when Ali Abu Shadi was responsible for this position, we managed to produce good movies, but then he was replaced. Ever since, we have met many obstacles. The problem is that there are no strict laws.

You have written great songs that contributed to creating the fame of Amr Diab and Mohamed Fouad as well as others. How do you see the quality of today’s songs?

Amr Diab is a legend by all standards, but the current trend in songs is similar to the situation of the country. In the past, we have not heard about corrupt judges, but now we find corrupt judges, engineers, and traders. The corruption and lack of awareness struck Egypt heavily in the last 40 years.

How did we reach this situation?

Art and culture were turned into goods. I am 62 years old and have only two collections of verse. I met some youth writers who have about 10 collections. When have they written them?! History judges writers and their ideas. In the past, we were very picky about publishing. Today, publishers collect Facebook posts, with all their intellectual and typographical errors, and publish them as if they are literary works. Weak writers have become well known, because we now compare them with other weak writers. In the past, we used to compare between Naguib Mahfouz and Taha Hussein, as well as between other legends.

Why doesn’t the previous generation transfer its experiences for future generations?

When I was young, I read the works of great poets like Hadad, Jaheen, and Shenawi. When I meet a young writer, I advise him to read great works, so that they would be able to create their own character in writing. When I was writing my songs, I was controlled by our culture and traditions. We did not write bad words or insults. Writers with average talent lead the scene now.

In the last year, I was responsible for writing the script of the “Fok Mostawa Al Shobohat” series, and there were three young writers helping me in this series, but only one writer was really talented, called Mohammed Ragaa. This year I will work with Haitham Dabour.

Do you see that the number of young talents is small?

We always look for young talents, but it is a difficult thing to find. When we find a good writer, we support them. We never abandon talented writers.

So what is the problem in your opinion? Education, or other things?

My study of medicine taught me to pay attention to details. I may rewrite the same movie script 20 times until I reach what I see as an optimum level for it. Attention to detail is the main difference between those who love their job and those who do their job.

In the past, there were good songs in terms of lyrics and music, but we rarely find good songs now amid the spread of popular techno rap songs (Mahraganat). What is your opinion on that matter?

Our generation was criticised in the past. There is always a desire to ignore modern things, under the claim that the real talent and nationalism existed in the previous generation only, but this is not reality. Nationalism and talent are not exclusive to a certain generation. If Abdel Halim Hafez was singing nowadays, he may not have achieved the same success he reached back in his days.

Late president Gamal Abdel Nasser supported the arts, and great movies were produced during his reign. Naguib Mahfouz wrote his greatest novels in the days of Abdel Nasser. The hero now in the eyes of the media is that person who beats up other people and insults them with the most vulgar of expressions. On the other hand, real respectful and reputable people have virtually disappeared. So we cannot demand younger generations to respect the ideals and values of our own.

Why do we not have movies or series about the political scene after 2011?

Because everything is still unclear. Everyone has different visions of the events. I wrote “The Preacher” series to reveal the real face of religious men who work in politics. By the way, no channel accepted to sell this series before June 30. Everything about the revolution was documented. We just need to understand the events of the revolution.

What is the story of your collection of verse “Shubra Misr”?

This collection consists of 32 poems about different people—26 whom I’ve met when I was young. Additionally, there are six poems about public figures, such as Fairuz, my brother Sami El-Adl, Jesus Christ, Nelson Mandela, and Khairy Beshara. All those figures influenced my life.

We were the only Muslim family in a building inhabited by Christians. In the summer holiday, we used to go to Mansoura and leave our apartment’s key with our neighbour Um Magdy, whose husband, Tomah, used to play “tawla” (backgammon) all by himself. When I grew up, I realised that he was once a young man who loved a woman and married her. I wrote about them in my collection.

We hear about the return of Sherihan, so why has she not presented anything yet?

There was no problem with the return of Sherihan, but she did not find suitable work. I prepared with my brother Sami 13 plays, similar to theatrical performances on Broadway. We agreed with poets, authors, and directors to present 13 performances. Each of these will last for a week or two, and then we can sell it to TV channels.

You are currently working on producing “For the Highest Price” series. What is its story?

The statues were destroyed, masks fell off, and everything can be sold at the highest price. This is the idea of the series.

Nelly Karim would be the heroine of this work. Are you not afraid of repeating the experience of the past year?

The people were very harsh with Nelly Karim. She has been the best actress in the country for three years, and she was fiercely criticised because of the failure of one series. The “Free Fall” series failed because it lacked interesting events.

Emad El-Sayed

Emad El-Sayed is the Editor-in-Chief of the Daily News Egypt

The 83-year-old farmer prosecuted for shooting a suspected diesel thief on his land told MailOnline today he wants his guns back ‘as soon as possible’ after being cleared in just 24 minutes.

In his first interview Ken Hugill thanked supporters who have donated £10,000 towards the £30,000 legal fees he was left with despite being found not guilty.

Mr Hugill faced 16 months of hell after he shot convicted burglar Richard Stables in the foot with a gun handed to him by his parents for a 21st birthday present and wept outside Hull Crown Court when he walked free on Friday.

Today he was ploughing some of his 60 acres ready to sow wheat having put the stress of the court case behind him.  

Speaking beside his tractor today, a Mr Hugill told MailOnline: ‘I hope to get my guns and ammunition back as soon as possible’.

Back to work:  Farmer Ken Hugill, 83, was back ploughing his fields today (pictured) after being cleared of shooting a suspected diesel thief and now he wants his guns back 'as soon as possible'

Back to work:  Farmer Ken Hugill, 83, was back ploughing his fields today (pictured) after being cleared of shooting a suspected diesel thief and now he wants his guns back ‘as soon as possible’

Farmer Kenneth Hugill, 83, was forced to fund his own £30,000 defence after he was cleared of GBH

Ordeal: Mr Hugill (left today) faced 16 months of hell after he shot a convicted burglar – but he was cleared in just 24 minutes by a jury at Hull Crown Court (right after walking free)

Stand-off: Richard Stables (pictured outside) claims he had stumbled on the farm and was not stealing diesel when Mr Hugill shot him near his farmhouse at 2am

Stand-off: Richard Stables (pictured outside) claims he had stumbled on the farm and was not stealing diesel when Mr Hugill shot him near his farmhouse at 2am

Since police seized his shotgun and rifle he has been unable to shoot rabbits on his farmland in the village of Wilberfoss, East Yorkshire.

He said: ‘Police took my .22 rifle, which I use to shoot rabbits, my double barrelled shotgun, my cartridges and licence when they came following the burglary. 

‘Before this happened I used to shoot about 400 rabbits a year on my land and on two or three neighbours’ land.

Fresh start: Today he was behind the wheel of his tractor today - he used his first print interview to thank supporters for paying £10,000 of his legal costs

Fresh start: Today he was behind the wheel of his tractor today – he used his first print interview to thank supporters for paying £10,000 of his legal costs

‘I have been shooting since I was less than 12 years old, and it has been part of my life on the farm.

‘I’m glad to get back to work and put the last 16 months behind me. Farming has been my life.’ 

The grandfather was charged with grievous bodily harm, and potentially faced a lengthy jail term, as he was said to have acted ‘recklessly’ in firing a shotgun without warning or calling for help.

The family criticised the Crown Prosecution Service and police, who took 15 hours to turn up at his Yorkshire farm and arrived with a squad of armed officers, forensic experts, an ambulance and a helicopter before arresting him and not the men who had been on his land. 

The jury heard he shot convicted burglar Richard Stables, 40, in the foot in November 2015. The farmer noticed a light outside at 2am and took his gun into the yard.

Father-of-three Mr Hugill has had hip and heart surgery, walks with a crutch and is hard of hearing, yet did not think twice about trying to catch criminals stealing diesel from his tank.

He saw the silhouette of a Land Rover, which revved the engine and drove towards him and told the court: ‘I pulled the trigger because I thought the car was going to kill me’. 

Richard Stables, a convicted burglar, was hit in the foot and driven straight to hospital by his friend Adrian Barron, a seasoned criminal with convictions for burglary and violence.

Mr Stables suffered serious injuries but survived and gave evidence as a prosecution witness.

The grandfather, pictured cleaning the blades of his plough, was charged with grievous bodily harm, and potentially faced a lengthy jail term before being found not guilty

The grandfather, pictured cleaning the blades of his plough, was charged with grievous bodily harm, and potentially faced a lengthy jail term before being found not guilty

Father-of-three Mr Hugill has had hip and heart surgery, walks with a crutch and is hard of hearing, yet did not think twice about trying to catch criminals stealing diesel from his tanks (pictured)

Father-of-three Mr Hugill has had hip and heart surgery, walks with a crutch and is hard of hearing, yet did not think twice about trying to catch criminals stealing diesel from his tanks (pictured)

Response: Police took 15 hours to turn up at the Yorkshire farm and arrived with a squad of armed officers, forensic experts, an ambulance and a helicopter before arresting him not the men who had been his land

Response: Police took 15 hours to turn up at the Yorkshire farm and arrived with a squad of armed officers, forensic experts, an ambulance and a helicopter before arresting him not the men who had been his land

Despite the jury clearing Mr Hugill’s name in just 24 minutes, his joy was tainted by legal bills of more than £30,000. 

He faces needing a loan to pay them – but the public has already raise £10,000 in the past four days.

Mr Hugill said he’s been taken aback by the support he’s received and the offers of help to pay his legal costs.

‘I’ve never asked anybody for anything, but I have been more than amazed by people’s response.’

He has been contacted with messages of support from around the world, including USA, Zimbabwe, and New Zealand.

He said his instinct was ‘to protect myself’ when driven at by the car on the night of the diesel raid.

‘That car came at me and I couldn’t see because it was black-dark. I never saw any persons. I made my decision instantly’.

Back to work: Mr Hugill was back at work today but his case highlights how farmers should have the 'right to defend their property', his family says

Back to work: Mr Hugill was back at work today but his case highlights how farmers should have the ‘right to defend their property’, his family says

Keen shootyer Mr Hugill fired at a Land Rover, which revved the engine and drove towards him, and told the court: 'I pulled the trigger because I thought the car was going to kill me'

Keen shootyer Mr Hugill fired at a Land Rover, which revved the engine and drove towards him, and told the court: ‘I pulled the trigger because I thought the car was going to kill me’

Mr Hugill had no idea he had hit Mr Stables, who was driven to hospital by accomplice Adrian Barron, 44, a criminal with a history of burglary and violence.

The farmer immediately rang his son, who phoned 101 to tell police of the suspected theft. 

Officers were not told about a firearm being used. David Hugill said that at 5pm armed police arrived at the farm in Wilberfoss, East Yorkshire. ‘They told us they heard there were firearms and they were looking for hostages,’ he said. ‘We were very shocked.’

His son David, 50, was also ploughing today, criticised Humberside Police and the CPS’ handling of his father’s case. And said they handled it ‘not at all’ well.

‘They were very, very heavy handed, especially on the approach down to the farm on the evening when we returned from work, when we had at last 20 police vehicles there surrounding the game with armed police.’

David said that when he rang 101 to report the burglary he had been unaware a shot had been fired.

‘People have the right to defend their property when the police response is very slow.

‘The police are under resourced and the countryside is a wide area. You cannot protect every single farm throughout the country.’

Farmer Kenneth Hugill with his wife Sheila Hugill leaving Hull Crown Court, where the jury agreed he was acting in self-defence and was 'petrified' at the time

Farmer Kenneth Hugill with his wife Sheila Hugill leaving Hull Crown Court, where the jury agreed he was acting in self-defence and was ‘petrified’ at the time

Today Mr Hugill’s lawyer Richard Manning from O’Garra’s in Leeds said: ‘The Hugill family are very grateful for all the support that they have had from their family, their friends and their legal team, and those who have contributed to their crowd funding to assist towards their fees.

‘This has been a very traumatic period and they are very anxious to be able to go back to their regular life and hope never to have this experience again, for them and all that suffer similarly within the rural community’.

The farm diesel tanks were found to have been ‘tampered with’. David said it would have been ‘fairer’ if Mr Stables and Mr Barron had been charged. Mr Stables claimed they ended up outside the property after getting lost.

Judge David Tremberg said it was a case ‘the prosecution can’t overlook’ requiring ‘verdicts of a jury’. The CPS said it was in the public interest. Humberside detective Matt Hutchinson said the police response was ‘appropriate’.  

“Rinemanyanga hariputirwi!” (It is impossible to conceal one’s weaknesses forever!) so goes the Shona adage. Mai Mujuru’s weaknesses, hidden and only guessed at for many years, are coming out now.

Those of us who have known Joice Teurai Ropa Mujuru long before independence will tell you that she a brave woman and that she played her part in the armed struggle but did she deserve her senior position in the struggle? The answer has to be a no.

After independence Joice Mujuru was one of the Zanu PF leaders who has kept their very senior positions in the party and government, cabinet member, in her case, for 34 years the last 10 of which she was VP, second only to President Mugabe. The question arises again; did she deserve her promotion? The answer is once again a no!

The truth is Joice Mujuru is not clever; it is impossible for anyone, with any wit themselves, to miss that. There is no doubt that she is painfully aware of her own serious limitations and, like many others in her position, has learned to guard her secret by saying very little. She has heeded Lincoln’s advice!

“Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt,” advised USA President Abraham Lincoln.

Saying very little and even then only from pre-prepared written speeches was all very well whilst she lived under Mugabe’s shadow, who spoke for us all – cabinet, parliament, Zanu PF, povo, everybody. Ever since the day she and many others were booted out of Zanu PF, especially when they decided to form their own party with Joice Mujuru as leader, she has had to open her mouth and speak. Each time she has open her mouth she has left the listener in no doubt what a fool she is!

“The Zimbabwean people have known me for a long time, from the days when I was the youngest minister. They know exactly how I’ve been relating to issues that affect their daily lives,” she said in a Newsweek Magazine report.

“They are seeing that it’s now my time, it’s now my chance. Because before, I’ve been subservient to lots of leaderships. But now that I will be the leader in my own right, surely… they think something better will come out of it.”

If she has been working on issues that affect us, the ordinary people’s daily lives, all these 34 years when she was at the very heart of this Zanu PF regime then why has the country sunk into this political and economic mess? Corruption has become rampant and over 30 000 innocent Zimbabweans have been murdered in cold blood to establish and retain the de facto Zanu PF dictatorship. She has said and done nothing to stop this madness; nothing other than play her part in the tyranny and take her lion’s share of the looted wealth.

Last years, when she was asked why she had never done nothing to stop the corruption, vote rigging, political oppression, etc.; she said did not see any of it. “A puppy does not open its eyes the day it is born!” she argued!

The truth is Mai Mujuru is a simpleton who would have never risen above the rank of unit leader during the war and held no higher position than rural councillor in public life if Zimbabwe had an open, healthy and functional democratic system. There are many, many men and women who would have served the nation far better than she did if they had been deputy minister, minister, VP, etc. in her place!

Whilst Mai Mujuru has admitted that corruption is a serious problem in Zimbabwe; she insists that she is not corrupt, nor was her late husband, Solomon Mujuru. She has yet to name even one person in the country who is corrupt. She has yet to square the circle, there cannot be corruption but no corrupt person(s) just as there cannot be murder but no murderer.

Indeed, in February 2014, just a few months before she was booted out of Zanu PF, she was telling women in Chinhoyi that there was no corruption they should not listen to the lies of “regime change agents”.

There can be no doubt that Mai Mujuru is corrupt and incompetent, especially now that she has been forced to open her mouth and remove all doubt that she is a fool who was promoted way above her level of competence. If she thinks Zimbabweans will ever elect her, in a free, fair and credible election, president then she is even more daft than she looks!

Mai Mujuru has already said that she and her party would contest next year’s elections even if not even one democratic reform has been implemented to ensure the elections are free and fair. If she has no snowball in hell chance of winning a free and fair election, she may just as well take her chance contest the flawed elections.  

After 34 years of enjoying absolute power the simpleton, Mai Mujuru, has become so intoxicated that she is not only blind to the reality that she betrayed the nation but is daft to think the people of Zimbabwe are equally blind of her treasonous betrayal.

“But now that I will be the leader in my own right, surely… they think something better will come out of it,” said Mujuru in her delirium!

Mai Mujuru, just like the corrupt and incompetent Morgan Tsvangirai or the corrupt and murderous tyrant Robert Mugabe, she is desperate to get into power so desperate she is sick. The cure is a simple one – implement all the democratic reforms to ensure the next elections are free, fair and democratic. None of these politicians will survive the close scrutiny of a free press and open debate.

The de facto one-party dictatorship has help Mai Mujuru hide her foolishness for 34 years but take that cloak away, in less than two years, already everyone knows she is a first class fool who should have never held high public office.

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