About the Film
To be yourself, that is the ultimate underlying value in Amr Salama’s Sheikh Jackson, emphasized in the film’s memorable poster as well as the last scene in the film, where the film’s protagonist, Khaled (Ahmad AlFishawy) dances in his white gown and long beard, as though breaking free of all the chains that had restricted him ever since he’d been a child. Sheikh Jackson is a uniquely expressive film; clear in its message without being heavy-handed, and cleverly driven by emotions, which makes the narrative flow smoothly.
The film follows the life of Khaled, from his childhood (Omar Khaled) to his teenage years (Ahmed Malek) all the way to the present, where he is a mosque imam portrayed by AlFishawy. Throughout his life, the sheikh had grappled with a conflict between his consuming love of life and music, and his conservative tendencies. As a teenager, Khaled was obsessed with Michael Jackson, and so when the King of Pop dies in 2009, the news shakes him to the core, setting the events of the film in motion.
Yet this is not just a story of a man who loves music and is surrounded by people who claim it is religiously forbidden. It is in fact a film that tells a universal story; for inside each of us there is a suppressed person, constantly held back by external forces. In Sheikh Jackson, we see Khaled’s childhood innocence accompany him all the way to adulthood, and this is why he is eventually able to let go in the film’s final moments.
The film also exposes us to a number of other intriguing characters, including Khaled’s overbearing father (Maged El Kedwany), his devout uncle (Mahmoud El Bezzawy), his loving mother (Dorra) and his therapist (Basma). These characters’ presence allows us to further understand Sheikh Jackson, who is, in fact, a stand-in for all of us.
Amr Salama, acclaimed filmmaker and author was born in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He gained recognition with his debut film On a Day Like Today (2008) which was acclaimed by critics and the public alike. His next work Asmaa (2011), won him more fame and as many as 18 awards after its worldwide premiere in Abu Dhabi, where it won the Best Arab Director award. He also co-directed Tahrir 2011: The Good, the Bad and the Politician (2011), which premiered at Venice
International Film Festival and won the UNESCO award and became the first documentary film to be commercially released in Egypt.