Povestea lor, povestea noastră - The Tentmakers of Cairo / Ţesătorii din Cairo la One World Romania 2016. Their Story, Our Story – The Tentmakers of Cairo at One World Romania 2016

** English translation coming **

O foarte scurtă istorie a Egiptului modern la cel mai înalt nivel al reprezentării sale politice ar suna cam aşa: de la instituirea republicii, în 1953, şi până la căderea lui Hosni Mubarak, în 2011, au există 5 preşedinţi, dintre care primul şi al patrulea au prestat în funcţia supremă, însumat, mai puţin de un şi jumătate. În restul timpului, postul a fost ocupat de Gamal Abdel Nasser (16 ani), Anwar Sadat (11 ani) şi Mubarak (aproape 30 de ani). Din 2011 până în 2014, Egiptul a avut 4 preşedinţi, cel mai recent, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, fiind încă în funcţie.

Article -> http://agenda.liternet.ro/articol/20783/Mihai-Brezeanu/Povestea-lor-povestea-noastra-The-Tentmakers-of-Cairo-Tesatorii-din-Cairo-la-One-World-Romania-2016.html

English Translation:

A very short history of modern Egypt at the height of its political representation would sound like this: ever since the republic was instituted in 1953 and until the fall of Hosni Mubarak in 2011 there were 5 presidents, the first and the fourth occupying the highest function for less than one year and a half summed up. Apart from that, the position was held by Gamal Abdel Nasser (16 years), Anwar Sadat (11 years) and Mubarak (almost 30 years). Between 2011 and 2014, Egypt had 4 presidents, the most recent one, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, being still in office. 

But is anybody truly interested in the history of a country at its height? The kind of history that we, the ones well past 30 years old, had had in our history books in middle school and high school? Maybe we should be interested, perhaps not exclusively, but specked with details about the lives of people without access to high functions and eye-catching public events. Moderation? How long has it been since you last heard this noun?

In Egypt’s sociopolitical turmoil, the Australian Kim Beamish tends, in Tentmakers of Cairo, to the idealized, idyllic balance described in the previous paragraph. His camera observes, for 3 years, the trivial events and everyday details of the lives of rug weavers specialized in the traditional Khayamiya technique. Once widely spread, this technology has now become the appanage of a small circle of masters, whose stores/workshops/stalls are mostly found on a certain street, the Sharia of Khayamiya, in Cairo.

With patience, talent and humor, Beamish catches the air of the bazaar, with its inevitable fights, crams, negotiations, trash, smiles, incidents on the edge of violence or beyond it, pulsing with contradictions, hopes and resignation. In the meantime, the filmmaker creates very convincing portraits, making out of a few weavers memorable characters. The montage combines their individual fates with their equally individual opinions about the great politics. Iocan’s various clearings, spiced with teas and cigarettes, are intensely fueled by the ubiquitous televisions with news from the marketplaces full of protesters. 

On a single occasion, some of the heroes of the movie choose to be the direct witnesses of the events and go, for an evening, to Tahrir Square. Other than that, they prefer the role of the touch judge, fierce in his opinions, passionate about the common destiny, but sufficiently convinced of his inability to change anything through his own voice to refuse the role of the protagonist.

True professionals, trying, with a certain degree of success, to sell their wares beyond the boundaries of their country to whose fate they are so intimately tied, skeptical yet dreamy regarding its future, Beamish’s weavers are far from a local example. To quote almost accurately the words of a local, ‘Their story? My story. Mine, and yours, and others’.’

For this remarkable familiarity, for this unexpected closeness across kilometers, traditions and religions, The Tentmakers of Cairo deserves a round of applause and multiple of meditation. Right in the middle of bloody day-to-day life, here’s a tiny yet comforting confirmation of an almost destroyed thought: the man from here and the man from there might, perhaps, get along, having a cup of tea or a cigarette, come to think of it.

Canberra filmmaker Kim Beamish discusses award-winning Tentmakers of Cairo

While it may seem like a long way from the colourful markets of Egypt's capital to a movie theatre in the ACT, a local filmmaker bridges the distance with his camera and artistic vision.

Kim Beamish shot, produced and directed 'The Tentmakers of Cairo' an award-winning documentary which has its Australian premiere at the Canberra International Film Festival.

Read more of Mary Lynn Mather's Canberra Times article here >>



"Hosam and Tarek are referred to as ‘The Tent Makers of Cairo’ following their appearance in Kim Beamish’s documentary of the same name. The documentary follows them and other tentmakers through the political unrest that followed the end of president Mubarak’s rule in early 2011. The ancient art of Egyptian tent hangings has been practised since the time of the Pharaohs and not only make for and effective and intimate focal point for the film but are an art form that has to be seen in person to be truly appreciated."

Find out more here ->>

Meet the Men Who Stitch Cairo’s Colorful Tents in This New Doc

In the post-industrial world we live in, handmade craftsmanship has fallen by the wayside, replaced by the standardized wares of factory production. But the art of khaimiya, or tent-making, is kept alive in a district of Cairo where nimble-fingered artisans spend most of the day stitching colorful, intricate patterns on the beautiful tents that dot the city’s landscape. Kim Beamish, a documentarian who arrived in Egypt in the midst of the 2011 uprising hoping to record some of the revolutionary action, instead produced this dynamic film that captures the work of Cairo’s tentmakers in vibrant color. The Tentmakers of Cairo documents the everyday lives of these unrecognized artists, as they struggle to maintain normalcy in the tumult of political and social upheaval.

Read more of Tasbeeh Herwees comments here >>

Q&A: The Tentmakers of Cairo

For three years, film-maker Kim Beamish hung out with the tent-makers in the Khaimiya district of Cairo. Three turbulent years, spanning the aftermath of the uprising against President Hosni Mubarak, the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood and the election of Mohamed Morsi, and the protests and coup that led to the presidency of military leader Abdel Fattah El Sisi. In Beamish' film, The Tentmakers of Cairo, all of this unfolds in the background -- most often, on a TV screen.  Although their contempt for the Muslim Brothers is palpable and their relief at the ascendancy of a strongman who can restore order is clear, the men in the alley focus largely on thei craft and their business. This is a movie in which very little happens, whose highlights are snippets of overheard conversation (my personal favorite is a father yelling at his young son, while the usual nationalist anthems blare on the TV: "Put down that book and watch TV! Don't you love your country?"). The ease with which these middle-aged, reasonable, well-intentioned men can be down to earth and funny, and then repeat silly rumors or put forth nonsensical arguments, is quite dispiriting. And as the film patiently documents their largely non-eventful lives, some may hanker for a bit more narrative, a bit more drama. But for those who are interested in what the January 25 uprising felt like to the majority in Egypt who watched anxiously and rather suspiciously on the side lines, this understated film offers many insights. 

The film will have its world premiere this Tuesday, 21 April in Nyon, Switzerland at the Visions du Reel Film Festival. Beamish is also hoping to organize screenings in Cairo in June or July. What follows is an email conversation between Beamish and myself. 

Read more here >>

The Complex Colours of Egypt – The Tentmakers of Cairo

“You can’t buy thousands of dollars of fabric and give a needle and thread to anyone”, opines a UPS delivery guy whilst picking up a parcel from a shopkeeper in Cairo. The shop in question, sells beautiful hand sown designs which have been made on the premises by extremely skilled artisans. The designs are now works of art which are hung on walls of homes but traditionally they were used to line and decorate the inside of tents. However, the quote is an analogy for what’s going on in the country at the time, the delivery guy is bemoaning the lack of skill and expertise in Mohamed Morsi, the country’s new leader.

You can read more of Catherine Nelson-Pollard's review here >>


©  George Kurian

© George Kurian

Australian filmmaker Kim Beamish spent three years immersed in the lives of craftsmen who create colourful fabric for his documentary, The Tentmakers of Cairo. Valentina Primo finds out more about his experience and the dying art of tent-making...

Read the article here >>