Mohannad Ghawanmeh

  • Fellowship Dates 2017-2018
  • Research Topic The Silent Cinema in Egypt: Creatives and Entrepreneurs in a State of Flux, 1896-1934
  • Fellow or Grant Type Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs
  • Affiliation Pre-doctoral candidate University of California, Los Angeles
 
The study concerns the era of silent cinema in Egypt between 1896 and 1934. It examines practices of those who worked in the field of cinema broadly, including in production, distribution and exhibition. The study considers cinema as a collection of activities - commercial relations, exchanges of expertise and movements of celluloid, equipment and people. It adds to the limited recent publications by Egyptian film historians by uniquely situating the cinema in Egypt at the time within a complex and dynamic transnational arena of exchange and influence, including institutions, corporations, press and audiences. The research investigates how pioneers of the first era in the cinema, the silent era, determined to take a risk by investing money, time and effort into an activity whose economic base had yet to be founded. It examines the occupational environment of directors, producers, actors and cinematographers and interactions with each other as well as between the practitioners and institutions that influenced their work, such as private banks and public oversight entities. The study attends to the influence of audiences on cinema practices and how audience makeup influenced cinemas' exhibition decisions, such as which films to screen, how much to charge and which language(s) to print advertising and program materials in. The silent cinema in Egypt has been understudied for good reason - there exists today little documentation from that era relating to the subject, yet this rigorous study illustrates not only how the silent cinema manifested globally, but also situates Egypt as a site of varied and vivid cinematic practices, alongside those that had occurred in well-studied countries in North America and Europe.

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