A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

a multi-faceted look at the middle east, and the middle west

translation issues

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on April 1, 2009

Yesterday I received the latest mailer from the Brooklyn Academy of Music, a local music, film, and performing arts center based – unsurprisingly – in Brooklyn. Part of its spring film lineup includes a “Tribute to Youssef Chahine”:

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I admire Chahine’s dedication to film, and the reputation he built up over the years, but since I am deeply allergic to Egyptian accents, I haven’t seen much of his work. In fact, the only Chahine film I am certain that I saw is Alexandria … Why? which screened several years ago at the Institut du monde arabe in Paris. (I thought it presented a very lush portrait of Alexandrian life, but the friend who accompanied me found it a total yawner. “Iskandariya … leih?” indeed, he said dismissively as we left.)

What vexed me was not the tribute itself but the description of a film that BAM calls Cairo as Seen by Chahine:

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“As much a portrait of Egypt’s capital as it is of Chahine himself”, the mailer says. Well, no kidding. The film’s actual, original title is Al Qahira Menauwwara bi Ahlaha – not my favorite transliteration, but oh well.

I guess that Chahine is min ahl al-Qahira, but I think that he would have titled the film Al Qahira Menawwara bi Chahine had he wanted the focus to be exclusively on himself.

In any case, I’m holding out for a Ghassan Salhab film tribute. A Lebanese vampire film in Brooklyn? Sign me up :D.

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One Response to “translation issues”

  1. kp said

    HI Diamond,

    This isn’t exactly the same topic as Chahine film retrospectives in Bklyn, but I have just been watching this episode of PBS’s “Independent Lens” and it seemed like you might find it compelling (though it’s about Jordan rather than Syria or Leb). In case you are and don’t know about it, here is the URL:

    http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/recycle/

    cheers, KP

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