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Youssef Chahine made the first great African film. He deals fearlessly with Arab themes. The Anglo-Saxon film world knows nothing about him. Why not?

By Mark Cousins   January 2006

I am in Egypt, interviewing the director Youssef Chahine for the documentary version of my book, The Story of Film. Now in his 80th year, Chahine is one of the few cinema pioneers still alive. His were the first great Arab and African films. Chatting to him in his office in hot and dusty Cairo in December, it’s difficult to believe that he’s something like the continent’s DW Griffith. Chahine is almost invisible in the Anglo-Saxon world. He had a retrospective at the NFT in London a few years ago, but he’s not talked about here. No filmmakers and only…

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