Ultras of Egypt is one of those powerful films where, I watched it in the beginning of the pandemic and it made me so sad, I couldn’t write the review. The filmmakers interview participants from the Arab Spring of 2011, who refer to the 18-day protest in Tahrir Square as The Revolution.
Before The Outcasts, aka El Matareed, Egypt had a pretty long history of funny football films. While much of this film is silly and over the top, I actually watched it twice and enjoyed it both times. The performances are entertaining, and the storylines are more complex than you initially think. In fact, for Egypt, the characters and their situations might be considered Western-light.
The International Player kicks off with a somewhat familiar scene — a celebrity leaves a night club accompanied by 2 women who are ready to party. The man drives fast and recklessly, until he crashes his Porsche convertible into a concrete wall. From his hospital bed, the film looks backward to see how the player Malek (Youssef El Sherif) came to this point of possible suicide right before a World Cup qualifier.
Imagine a film where Cinderella goes to the ball, has her magical moment, and then returns to the cinders to make the best of her life as a servant to a cruel family. If you know Cinderella, you know she is resilient, and she will keep singing and will find friendly relationships to sustain her, even if they are only animal friends.
American Pharaoh is Hossam Aboul-Magd’s first shot at directing and is a 60 minute documentary for PBS. Hossam is a one-man film crew, following Bradley and his wife Lindsay during their 2 year residency in Cairo. He became their friend, and perhaps that is why the film is so weak.
Soccer fans looking for a way to be part of WC2014, documentarians Dave LaMattina and Chad Walker followed Bob Bradley on his questionably sane task to coach the Egyptian National Team to Brazil.
Arab Spring got in the way.
The film captures not so much Bradley’s journey, but the journey of Egypt’s young people and one ardent soccer fan base, the Ultras Ahlawy.