Documentary films and their role in documenting Egyptian cultural heritage

By: Moustafa Kamel, Egyptian heritage researcher

Documentary films have a great role in the preservation of Egyptian cultural heritage in tangible and intangible aspects, documentary film is designed to provide information about the reality of life, it is a film with a humanitarian message and derives its material of the reality of life and is a means of influencing the masses and has an important role in the history of human culture.

English director Paul Rotha spoke of it as the expression of people’s lives as they actually are in a social way and in a creative way, which is a particular form of film production that is entirely dependent on reality. both in its material and in its implementation. , and is concerned with the achievement of media, educational and cultural goals, the preservation of heritage and history, and is characterized by clarity and short viewing time and targets a certain category of viewers.

It is a film that deals with and recalls a historical, cultural, political, social, economic or health event or subject, supported by photographic documents and testimonies of people living the event and is treated in a creative and attractive way.

The French directors said it was a film for travel, and the documentary film is based on realism by observing and selecting from life itself and experiencing its events, places and people around whom the subject revolves.

Characteristics of documentary films

John Grierson identified three characteristics of the documentary that must be available for the film to become a true documentary.

The documentary is based on the navigation, observation and selection of life itself

People of documentary film and its scenes choose in living reality

The material of the documentary film chooses directly from nature, without paternity

And the importance of the documentary film in that it communicates a message in a simple and quick way, because it is a group presentation medium, so the single spectacle is watched by a large number of people and has significance for us to experience the ancient archaeological places, customs, traditions, beliefs, folk knowledge, folk literature, traditional crafts, folk arts and vocabulary of other people’s culture, as it documents human treasure such as The tent documentary film by director Hashim Al-Nahhas, he documented the lives of ancient tent craftsmen (applied arts.)

At the end of this article, we will analyze a documentary film to form a common front on the importance of documentary films and their role in documenting Egyptian heritage.

Documentary films have types among which: the educational documentary film which helps the teacher to explain his subject to the students, there is a scientific documentary film in which he discusses scientific subjects, whether medical, health or environmental, a training documentary film which explains certain skills in the dissemination of artistic culture among workers and farmers, and an orientation documentary film which provides information on a particular subject in a purely academic way, and the current affairs documentary which covers the current events, and the social documentary film is faithful and the director chooses a certain social issue and approaches from several different aspects

And a documentary film on advertising such as tourism advertising and the introduction of projects, whether artistic, practical or cultural, such as the film Egypt Civilization, which had the artist Khaled Al-Nabawi in it.

Now is the time to discuss and analyze the documentary film Khan Al-Khalili directed by Abdel Moneim Shukri, a film which is on YouTube for anyone who wants to see it?.

In the foreground of this film, in front of us appears the Abu Al-Dahab hospice and the Al-Azhar mosque, and in a circular movement of the camera, Hussein square and its majestic minaret appear to us in a distant shot in where the whole scene is seen from afar with a soundtrack accompanying a resentful Siham Al-Deeb voice-over and provides a separate commentary on why Khan Al-Khalili is called by that name, and folk tales and stories which revolved around this place, and the most famous traditional crafts of leather, metalwork and Arab carpentry of Modulation on the arc and the compositions of the mashrabiya because the director successively offered and sprayed the leather then the director us took them to train bow swimming from a workshop where the skilled craftsman appears with his student to learn the secrets of this craft from him, then he offered the process of assembling the beads of the rosary with thread, pu is presented the metalwork of silver and copper er and the decorative methods of Engraving and downloading silver on copper and then concluded his film by showing a selection of artists’ cultural products The film ends with a layered sound of playing handcrafted instruments that he showed in the film to become an artistic symphony that expressed those traditional crafts He was expressing those traditional crafts in historic Cairo.

I am happy to talk together about the opinions we have discussed in this article on documentary films and their role in documenting Egyptian heritage, and to analyze the documentary film Khan Al-Khalili.

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