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Marina of the Zabbaleen

  • Film

Time Out says

*** (Three stars)
Pigeons take wing in freewheeling circles but always return to their cages. A kite soaring serenely over a verdant field of corn turns out to be made of refuse. Symbolism runs thick in Marina of the Zabbaleen, first-time director Engi Wassaf's look at a community of Coptic Christians who eke out a living recycling garbage and raising pigs on the outskirts of Cairo. The most omnipresent symbol is Marina herself: a good-natured, studious six-year-old girl who hopes to become a doctor. The doe-eyed girl is a sympathetic presence in a coarse, fetid environment, whose inhospitality Wassaf underscores by shooting through barred windows, door frames and alleyways. Rob Hauer's cinematography brilliantly captures Cairo's parched, sepia-toned afternoons, and his creative use of lens flare adds an occasional touch of psychedelic haze. Where the film falls short is in Wassaf's failure to pursue the critical issues she glancingly raises. Is Egypt justified in its outsourcing of sanitation to foreign contractors whose methods are less eco-friendly, and what is the place of an obscure Christian community within an ever-growing Muslim majority?—Steve Smith, associate Music editor, Classical & Opera

[This is a TONY staff review, written for the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival. It is not considered an official review and should not be read as such. Please think of it as a casual impression from a movie-loving friend.] 

Cast and crew

  • Director:Engi Wassef
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