Apr 24, 2011

SFIFF54: "Microphone" Check on Arab Underground Art Scene

11:04 PM

Writer/Director Ahmad Abdalla plunges onto the SFIFF circuit this year with Microphone-- his deeply intimate, love story of a young man that returns back to his coastal, hometown of Alexandria (Egypt) and while soul-searching on his life-- discovers the diverse, rich and intertwined urban arts community. 
Khaled (Khaled Abol Naga) comes home from living abroad and hopes to reconnect with his ex-girlfriend and instead finds her ready to move on from the confines that bind her in the repressive, Arab culture.

Segmented cut-scenes are played through the film of the reunited Hadeer (his ex-GF) and Khaled at a beautiful cafe and works to frame narratives of many challenges from homelife with his recently widowed father, the struggles of starting a new business with a friend and re-discovering Alexandrian-lifestyle.   At first he seems less attracted by the youth-inspired street expressions of skateboarding, graffiti and other westernized artforms but as Khaled becomes more centered, at peace with some failed expectations and takes off his headphones-- this acts as a signal of him being more plugged in-- Khaled then begins to observe
and find more interest in the vibrant urban culture that he is in the center of.

Through a chance encounter with an adolescent skater, Khaled begins to meet many of the undiscovered talent of Alexandria from a group of street rappers, documentary film-students, graffiti artists and numerous other music acts.

The diverse music arrangement (indie-pop, Arab, rock and hip-hop) puzzles in nicely with the talented ensemble cast that for the most part are actual artists and creators from Alexandria, giving Microphone even more street cred and a deeply entrenched soul.  Khaled eventually finds himself looking to create a concert and space to showcase all of the underground music and art culture, but faces the same challenges of all the artists-- a strictly governed society that doesn't care to push forward the liberating expressions of music and art.

Abdalla weaves together a film that sucks you in from start to finish with its captivating depiction of Alexandria's gorgeous scenery, the endless struggle between generational norms and thoughtfully acts as the final stage for the Arab underground arts scene.

Microphone has a final screening at the Sundance Kabuki this Wednesday at 130pm -- check it out. 

This post was written by:
big O
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