HOLLYWOOD ON THE NILE

NFT, LONDON, 2–30 JULY 2003

During the Golden Age of Egyptian cinema (late 30s–early 60s), the dream-makers of the Nile created an industry that would dominate the Arab world for decades, with some of Egypt's most glamorous singers, dancers, actresses and actors: the legendary singer Om Kalsoum (1904–75), the Arab diva par excellence, here seen in two early films, 'Anthem of Hope' and 'Aida'; Asmahan (1912–44) in 'Love and Revenge'; her brother Farid el-Atrache (1907–74), who composed most of her songs and accompanied many stars, including the alluring Tahiya Carioca; and Leila Mourad (1918–95), from a prominent family of Jewish composers.

The directors include the prolific Ahmed Badrakhan (1909–69); Henri Barakat (1914–97), whose film 'The Sin' stars Faten Hamama (b 1931), the wife of Omar Sharif (b 1931); and Youssef Chahine (b 1926), whose many comedies and melodramas include 'You Are My Love', with the sex symbols Hind Rostom and Shadia.