Cairo is the star of a profound film about the two years leading up to the turmoil of 2011

Part documentary, part fiction, this profound, elegiac picture is as trickily undefinable as its subject, the city of Cairo in the two years in the run-up to the Egyptian revolution in 2011. The film uses the device of a fictional film-maker grappling with a documentary portrait of his home city, a mercurial subject, as he struggles with more quotidian concerns such as the quest to find somewhere to live. Woven into the story are messages from friends – video missives from Berlin, Baghdad and Beirut – and documentary footage of the city.

It’s a work of gentle, swelling sadness that mourns a spirit of artistic and creative freedom quashed and it has become something of a cause celebre, since it was effectively banned in Egypt after being unceremoniously pulled from the Cairo international film festival last year.

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