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A Room Full of Art: Cinematic Portraits

Delving into the world of Mohamed Bakr in 50 Years of Cinematic Portraits

At Photopia studios, over 100 portraits hang on the walls, mesmerizing everyone who walks in. This February, 50 Years of Cinematic Portraits paid homage to the illustrious career of acclaimed cinematographer Mohamed Bakr, spanning over six decades in Egyptian cinema.

Over 100 images from 80 films were displayed, offering attendees captivating insight into the rich history of Egyptian cinema captured through Bakr’s lens. Between his first movie Samara filmed back in 1956 and his latest movies, you’ll get lost in art and nostalgia.

As soon as you set foot in the exhibition, you’ll fall into an emotional rollercoaster. The exhibition provides a nostalgic journey, blending the past and present, as visitors immerse themselves in the timeless portraits taken by Bakr, creating a warm and nostalgic atmosphere.

The exhibition included frames from many films that we loved and still watch even if a hundred years have passed. From The Nightingale’s Prayer starring Faten Hamama and Ahmed Mazhar, to Al Kitkat, featuring the late star Mahmoud Abdel Aziz, it evokes sentiments of nostalgia and reverence. Bakr’s portraits depicted renowned actors and actresses, including Souad Hosni, Nabila Ebeid, and Naglaa Fathi, among others, encapsulating their enduring impact on Egyptian cinema.

We couldn’t attend such an event and get mesmerized by all these portraits without speaking to Mohamed Bakr, who recalled with ELLE the days when the camera never left his hands.

THE MOMENT HIS CAREER CHANGED FOREVER

Bakr tells ELLE, “I cannot really tell which movie played the twist in my life, as I think all of them were equally important and I’m proud of every single movie that I filmed.” Some describe that “The Mummy” was one of the pivotal films. On a virgin professional journey.

DIRECTORS IN BAKR’S LIFE

When asked about his favorite director, Bakr tells us how all the directors he worked with were great, but some stand out. “All the directors I have worked with were really great, especially Hassan Al-Imam.” Bakr cites his creativity and professionalism in all of his works. He also mentioned the late, great director Atef Al-Tayeb and how he loved it at his filming locations. Besides Al-Imam and Al-Tayeb, Bakr worked with a handful of exceptional directors, among them Henry Barakat, Hossam El-Din Mostafa, Samir Seif, and Dawood Abdel Sayed.

A CAMERA CAPTURES FACES

What is better than a portrait of a beautiful lady? Especially ladies in Bakr’s archive. He says: “Each was pretty in her own way. For instance, the beautiful Nabila Ebeid’s facial features were one of a kind. Issaad Younis had an exceptional appearance, and many others” he notes. Among the heart-capturing portraits were ones of beloved gorgeous actresses Souad Hosni, Faten Hamama, and Shadia.

MEN THROUGH YOUR CAMERA

Bakr captured hundreds of men through his lens, protagonists and flat characters, but who was his favorite? “As known, the majority of the movies I photographed starred the great and leading Adel Imam. As he is one of the artists I most enjoyed working with and accompanying.” Bakr was also keen on mentioning the godfathers of the industry including Ahmed Mazhar, Ismail Yassin, Zaki Rustom, and many others.

THE FILMS HE CHERISHED 

“I can’t say, I always feel like they’re my children, hence I can never prefer one over another.” He adds, “Being part of Naguib Mahfouz’s films was a great honor for me, for I got to live in his world, in his alleys.” He describes The Bullet Still in My Pocket as one of the films he is most proud of in his record.

CINEMA BETWEEN PAST AND PRESENT 

“Today we do not see such portraits and frames for a very simple reason; filmmakers no longer care about the cinematic portraits.” Not a single portrait of those hanging on the walls at the exhibition will fail to dazzle you. But looking at modern films, the same old captivating frames have no place on the table. 

The exhibition not only celebrated Mohamed Bakr’s remarkable career but also served as a tribute to Egypt’s artistic heritage. It showcases a fraction of Bakr’s extensive portfolio, leaving audiences eagerly anticipating more from his archive.

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