News of the Nation: Mohamed Bayoumi’s Newsfilms in the Newly Independent Egypt, 1923-1935

By Mohannad Ghawanmeh
Submitted to Session P4988 (Anxieties, Resistances, and the Clergy in Egyptian and Iranian Film, 2017 Annual Meeting
Media Arts
LCD Projector with Audio Patch or Speakers;
Of the fifteen Egyptian silent films extant and institutionally held at present, all but one were made by Egyptian film pioneer Mohamed Bayoumi (1894-1963). Fifteen of Bayoumi’s films have survived in full or fragment, made between 1923 and 1933, of which fourteen are silent, including the filmmaker’s eleven surviving newsfilms. In this essay, I examine Bayoumi’s news films topically and structurally, contextualizing them within nationalist discourses and national developments in an Egypt that had gained its independence from Great Britain in 1922. Egypt’s first national government then came into power the following year, the year that saw the release of Bayoumi’s first film as director/producer The Nation Welcomes Saad Zaghloul (1923). I also aim to correlate Bayoumi’s newsfilms to the interests of Egypt’s first national bank—Bank Misr, founded in 1920—and to its subsidiary Company for Acting and Cinema, established in 1925. This humble production house, renamed Studio Misr a decade later, would become a cornerstone of the Egyptian film industry, backed by the state and operating in film production, distribution and exhibition.