Making Film in Egypt: How Labor, Technology, and Mediation Shape the Industry
An ethnographic study of the Egyptian film industry
The enormous influence of the Egyptian film industry on popular culture and collective imagination across the Arab world is widely acknowledged, but little is known about its concrete workings behind the scenes. Making Film in Egypt provides a fascinating glimpse into the lived reality of commercial film production in today's Cairo, with an emphasis on labor hierarchies, production practices, and the recent transition to digital technologies. Drawing on in-depth interviews and participant observation among production workers, on-set technicians, and artistic crew members, Chihab El Khachab sets out to answer a simple question: how do filmmakers deal with the unpredictable future of their films? The answer unfolds through a journey across the industry's political economy, its labor processes, its technological infrastructure, its logistical and artistic work, and its imagined audiences. The result is a complex and nuanced portrait of the Arab world's largest film industry, rich in ethnographic detail and theoretical innovations in media anthropology, media studies, and Middle East anthropology.