The death of famed Egyptian-British film director, Mohamed Khan, on July 26 leaves behind a bereaved family. Trained at the London School of Film Technique, his illustrious career spanned six decades and began with a short film called Da’i in 1963. Several of his films were entered in International film festivals, including Darbet Shams in 1979 in Montreal. 1983’s El Harrif entered the Moscow Film Festival also won for Best Director at the Egyptian Film Society Festival in 1985. Several of his films also garnered silver awards at Carthage and Damascus film festivals as well as a bronze at the Valencia Film Fest in the late 80’s.
His contemporaries Bashir El-Dik, Atef El-Tayeb, and Khairy Beshara, shared Khan’s neorealistic film style. Three of his films were included in the “100 Greatest Arab Films of all time” at the Dubai International Film Festival: El-Harrif, Zawgat Ragol Mohem and Ahlam Hind wa Camilia. With 24 feature films and twelve short works, Mr. Khan left a rich legacy of cinema that featured the everyday struggles of ordinary Egyptians. He also wrote three books on filmmaking, his last published in 2015.
Strong Last Film
Many of the leads in Khan’s films were strong females. His final film, 2016’s Before the Summer Crowds, debuted at Dubai’s international film festival in 2015 and at the Luxor African Film Festival, representing Egypt. When that film was disqualified from the Muscat Film Festival over certain scenes they deemed inappropriate, Khan called it, “an insult to my film career.” Several Egyptian directors pulled their films in solidarity over the censorship by the gulf country.
Film makers and actors expressed their sense of loss. Actor Sabry Fawaz incorporated Khan’s last film subject in his farewell comment on Ahram Online, “And so it was that Khan lives in the heart of the summer crowd.” A CIFF representative tweeted, “Cairo International Film Festival mourns with deep sorrow the late filmmaker Mohammad Khan, one of the most prominent directors of Egyptian cinema.” Khan’s legacy endures in deeply introspective films that captured the essence of middle class Egyptian life. His plots were simple and without unnecessary action.