Covering Cinema From All Across The African Diaspora

Egypt's Own James Bond - Coming Soon!

The world's only transcontinental country (to my knowledge anyway) - Egypt - is bringing the Arab world's very own "kick-ass" secret agent to the big screen!

I say transcontinental because while Egypt sits firmly in North Africa, making it an African country, it's also home to a land bridge (the Isthmus of Suez) which connects Africa to the Asian continent, specifically the Middle East, making Egypt also a Middle Eastern (Asian) country.

Which continent it belongs to depends on who you ask - at least that's been my experience! It's always been an African country to me.

According to Variety, Saudi billionaire Prince Waleed Bin Talal and his Rotana Films is bankrolling the endeavor, stating, "Rotana Films has acquired the rights to Egyptian writer Nabil Farouk's "Ragol al mostaheel" ("Man of the Impossible") 25 years after the bestselling book was first published. The book centers on the adventures of Adham Sabri, a highly skilled Egyptian superspy, whose exploits often see him foiling the rival intelligence agencies of the U.S., Russia and Israel. "

The project is set to hit cinemas sometime in 2009. There is no word yet on who will play the plum role of Sabri, and the film is
already "gearing up to be a must-see Arab film next year." "We're going to hold a beauty contest of Arab producers and decide who we want to work with," quips Frederic Sichler, head of the Cairo-based Rotana Films. "There is no doubt it will be one of the most important productions in the Middle East next year. It might not be that exciting for people in Los Angeles but it marks a major step forward for us in the Middle East. The talent here is everywhere. Our top priority is to deliver strong Arab content and make Arab films which work internationally. We are going to build the distribution outlets and get the stories out. No other part of the world is so absolutely crucial to the future of the world. People are waiting for strong, relevant artistic stories that show the Arab point of view. The Middle East is filled with politics and religion but that is only part of it. That is not the only story."

Ideally, I wouldn't expect a photocopy of the James Bond or Jason Bourne serials, with Egyptian faces populating the film. Imitating Hollywood's formula for the "super spy" sub-genre would be a bad idea. I'd like to see them come up with something wholly original. But this desire to produce something that "works internationally" (which, if Bollywood's recent moves are any indication, means "works in the American market") indicates the former.

Although it would be great to see an Arab foiling rival intelligence agencies of the U.S. for a change, taking out American villains. We're so used to being fed the opposite - the archetypal Arab terrorist we've seen countless times. It would be nice to see the tables turned, and whether American audiences would welcome a film with that particular message.



  1. albertine said...

    Did you ever see an African film called "Critical Assignment"? It's in that James Bond/Jason Bourne mold, but with the hero played by an African, taking place in Africa. The country is never given.

    The movie wasn't very good. I thought of it because of what you said about this film being a photocopy of American spy films but with Arabs. Critical Assignment was just like that, music and everything. It came off as inauthentic.

  2. The Obenson Report said...

    I've seen Critical Assignment. I chuckled a lot :o)

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