In Cairo, Seeing Beyond the Headlines Means Riding Shotgun
The documentary Cairo Drive opens with comedy and ends with a shocker. Ostensibly the film is about the chaotic avenues of Egypt's capital, where zipping through the streets or jammed up in clogged intersections gives viewers a glimpse of several facets of daily life. Various chacters take the audience on a tour of their beloved city—a mother learning to drive, a small business owner, a young ambulance driver looking for love. There are many peripheral characters, too—the policemen, victorious youth in the wake of the Arab Spring revolution, and those looking to make a quick buck. Whether inside the car or on the sidewalks, the city buzzes with noise, color, and more noise. It's life seen through windshields.
But Cairo Drive is about so much more than traffic. Through the every day attempts of trying to get from Point A to Point B, deeper experiences emerge: commerce, love, corruption, death, laughter, politics, anxiety. These are urban moments. These are existential moments. Cairo Drive is a real trip.
The documentary makes its New York City premiere on November 15 at the DOC NYC festival. In advance of the screening, I spoke with director Sherief Elkatsha by video conference as he finished up the film circuit in Copenhagen.