Screened as part of NZIFF 2002

Silence… We’re Rolling 2001

Silence… on tourne/Skoot Hansawaar

Directed by Youssef Chahine

Egypt / France In Arabic with English subtitles
108 minutes 35mm

Director, Screenplay


Pierre Dupouey


Rachida Abdel Salam
Tamer Ezzat


Omar Khairat


Ahmed Wafik
Ahmed Bédeir
Magda El Khatib
Mostapha Chaaban


"The beating heart of show business pulses gloriously through this latest film from Youssef Chahine. It’s a musical romantic comedy about the movie world, with a dash of Bollywood, Stanley Donen and Who Framed Roger Rabbit. The film is set in a westernised, cosmopolitan Alexandria, which with its hotels, musical theatres and beach scenes (some tongue-in-cheek back projections here) looks like bygone Hollywood’s imagination of the Côte d’Azur. A super-successful screen actress Malak (Latifa) is being wooed by creepy Lothario and would-be star Lamei (Ahmed Wafik), an unreliable, gold-digging fellow with highlights in his hair. Meanwhile Malak’s formidable mother is attempting to match-make her beautiful granddaughter Paula with her chauffeur’s son, a radical, bookish intellectual. 

It’s impossible not to be carried along by the hellzapoppin’ high spirits of Chahine’s movie, which like all the best comedies is leavened with a touch of sadness as Malak’s regular screenwriter, heartbroken by her infatuation with the unsuitable Lamei, reveals his own adoration – and then engineers Lamei’s downfall with the aid of a hidden microphone, a device that certainly adds piquancy to the title. The happy ending has all the buoyancy of a Shakespearian comedy. A treat." — Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian 

"Malak, the heroine, is a movie star and chanteuse of a kind we don’t see much anymore in this country: imagine Barbra Streisand without pretension or Madonna without kink. She is played by the Tunisian singer Latifa, whose somewhat limited acting is overcome by her indomitable charisma and a figure as voluptuous as her voice. 

The movie opens and closes with a song celebrating the open-hearted joie de vivre that characterizes ‘a genuine Egyptian’. The song is ravishingly sung by Latifa and performed by a tuxedo-clad orchestra led by Omar Khairat, the composer and arranger who is an icon of this lush, sentimental style, a kind of Egyptian Nelson Riddle. The film charmingly renders present-day Cairo and Alexandria as zones of cosmopolitan suavity, troubled only by the passing storm clouds of romantic melodrama." — A.O. Scott, NY Times