September 19, 2012 – Mario M. Ruiz

Associate Professor, Department of History
Hofstra University
“The (Egyptian) Artist: Mohamed Bayoumi and Silent Cinema in Cairo”

Although not widely known, Mohamed Bayoumi was one of the great pioneers of Egyptian cinema. Born in 1894, Bayoumi left Egypt in 1920 to study filmmaking in Berlin. When he returned in 1923, he created his own newsreel and proceeded to shoot a series of short silent films. In this talk, I examine one of Bayoumi’s earliest films, Barsum yabhath ‘an wazifa/Barsum is Looking for a Job. Barsum represents Bayoumi’s first stand-alone directorial effort and deals with contentious social issues such as urban poverty and Coptic-Muslim relations in Cairo. I revisit this pioneering work and ask why Bayoumi championed the notion of film as an object of possibility, humor, and political significance.

Co-sponsored by the Program in Middle East Studies, Bryn Mawr College