In the Last Days of the City

The city is Cairo, and the days are the year leading up to the Egyptian Revolution of 2011. Writer-director Tamer El Said, making his feature debut (2016), follows his filmmaker protagonist (Khalid Abdalla) as he visits his ailing mother, wrestles with a documentary that won’t come together in the editing room, and travels around and around the city looking for a new flat, which allows El Said to present a wide range of social detail and note the growing social influence of the Muslim Brotherhood. (In one apartment building, the elevator passes a bumper sticker at each floor reading “Thou shalt not look at women.”) The filmmaker’s project involves refugees from Lebanon and Iraq who send him footage of their new lives in Europe; this is incorporated into the hero’s endless meanderings, which El Said punches up with news-broadcast audio about the growing political tension across Egypt. In Arabic with subtitles.