Yomeddine directed by Abu Bakr Shawky was inspired by his short documentary titled El Mosta'mara “The Colony” (2009). The documentary sheds light on the patients living in Egypt's only surviving leper colony located in Abu Zaabal neighborhood, northern of Cairo. Since then, Shawky’s interest in the leper colony and its people deepened and he began working on the screenplay for Yomeddine, his first feature narrative film, pursuing the journey of his documentary’s protagonist, Beshay, a Coptic man and a garbage collector, who despite recovering from leprosy, carries the disease’s traces on his face and body. The protagonist has never ventured out of the leper colony where he has lived since childhood, and only after his wife's death he decided to go in search of his roots. With his meager possessions strapped to a donkey cart and joined by Obama, a Nubian orphan who he takes under his wings, Beshay leaves the colony and heads towards Qena, one of Egypt’s southern governorates. In his journey, he confronts the world for the first time, discovers its joys and sorrows, as he continues his quest for a family, despite the fact that they neglected him as a child.
Present at the world premiere of the film at the recently concluded Cannes Film Festival, Naguib Sawiris, Founder, El Gouna Film Festival (GFF) remarked, “Yomeddine is a unique experience in the Egyptian cinema, not for its achievement of being selected for the official competition of Cannes Film Festival or for the moving story of its protagonist affected by leprosy, but because it reminds us of human values that we seem to have forgotten in the hustle and bustle of life. I believe that Abu Bakr Shawky, director of the film, is one of the most promising Arab filmmakers whose future work we can look forward to." Naguib Sawiris also pointed out that “the story of Yomeddine is about the outcasts of society who are trying to survive and enjoy their right to live despite the difficulties and cruelties of life”.
"It is no coincidence that Yomeddine was selected for Official Competition at Cannes Film Festival. The film has a very strong script, has been beautifully shot and very well performed. It is without doubt an extraordinary debut. We have followed its evolution from the various labs that it participated in, including our own CineGouna Platform and are delighted to have such a brilliant and avant-garde film in our program. Our Festival audience, Arabs and Egyptians eagerly await the screening of this film at GFF, especially after its impressive opening in Cannes,” said Intishal Al Timimi, Festival Director, El Gouna Film Festival.
At its world premiere in Cannes, Yomeddinewas received warmly by both, the audience and the critics. Yomeddine’s success at Cannes Film Festival was expressed by a number of international critics.
Shelagh Rowan-Legg wrote in Screen Anarchy that “Yomeddine gives us a true story, the one that we need to be reminded of every now and then; Shawky immediately attaches the audience to the main characters, through their love of each other and the family of their community; their journey is ours, both as them, and as the people who might not treat them with the kindness they deserve.”
“It gives me great pleasure to know that my film Yomeddine has been selected for the Feature Narrative Competition of El Gouna Film Festival, especially because the festival has been one of its supporters through the film’s participation in CineGouna Platform. The screening at El Gouna Film Festival will be the film’s MENA premiere and its first screening in Egypt, my homeland. I hope that the film will be as warmly received at home as it was at Cannes Film Festival,”said Abu Bakr Shawky, the director of the Yomeddine.
About El Gouna Film Festival
The mission of El Gouna Film Festival is to showcase a diverse selection of films for a passionate and knowledgeable audience and to foster better communication between different cultures through the art of filmmaking. Its goal is to connect filmmakers from the region with their international counterparts in the spirit of cooperation and cultural exchange through the presentation of the finest recent cinematic productions. The Festival is committed to the discovery of new voices and strives to be a catalyst for the development of Cinema in the Arab World, particularly through its industry segment, CineGouna Platform.