Dir/scr: Ahmad Abdalla. Egypt. 2010. 120mins
Microphone is a bold and often engagingly freewheeling attempt to focus on modern-day subculture in Alexandria, looking at how young rappers, rockers and graffiti artists live alongside the more traditional aspects of this bustling Egyptian city.
Another key subtext is the theme of leaving ones home country to seek education and a new life in Western countries.
Writer-director Ahmad Abdalla’s films runs perhaps a bit too long at two hours, and would have benefited from the storylines being tightened, but there is an undeniable energy to the film and a certain amount of raw talent displayed by the young artists given profile in the film.
Khaled (Khaled Aboul Naga) returns to Alexandria after years of travel, but faces a bleak fresh start in his home city – his girlfriend announces that she is emigrating and his aging father is getting more and more ill. Khaled gets a job in advertising through a friend, but when he happens upon a subculture of rappers and graffiti artists he is thrilled to find a new dynamism existing in the city.
He becomes a champion of this new artistic world, and with limited resources and connections he sets about trying to get support and attention for this more underground aspect of Alexandrian culture.
The film sets out its stall right from the opening scenes, as a rap song is set over the glossily shot footage of graffiti artists at work around the city. Some sequences work better than others – the tap sequences are nicely staged, but footage of an overly serious guerrilla student film crew (and the ‘microphone’ of the title) are less convincing. Best of all is footage of a talented girl band who don’t want their faces to be seen and some of their parents think they are still at school.
Another key subtext is the theme of leaving ones home country to seek education and a new life in Western countries. As one person points out about another: “He left the country to get a doctorate in dish-washing”.
But on the whole, Microphone is an impressively made film that raises lots of intriguing issues and is punctuated by an evocative and vibrant soundtrack, while it is also nicely shot by Tarek Hefny.
Production company: Film Clinic
Producer/sales contact: Mohamed Hefzy, firstname.lastname@example.org
Cinematography: Tarek Hefny
Editor: Hicham Saqer
Main cast: Khaled Aboul Naga, Menna Shalabi, Yosra El Lozy, Hany Adel, Alef Yousef