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Everyday life in Mafrouza, a run-down neighborhood of Alexandria, is hard. The inhabitants live in great poverty in derelict houses, without running water, waste disposal, or a sewage system. But they respond to these conditions with unbelievable energy and imagination and invent amazing strategies to defy adversity. Mafrouza/Cœur is the second of five planned parts of a long-term study, following the lives of certain inhabitants over two years.

A young man introduces the city in a rap. A woman spends hours building an oven out of stones on a garbage dump - and turns this into a stage. In the grocery people discuss whether the film that's being made will be shown in festivals. There are long conversations about love, divorce, reconciliation, and everything under the sun. The shooting is recurrently commented on, and the position of those being filmed as well as that of the director are called into question or instead defended. This playful reference to the camera as the subject of an exchange clears the way for an encounter with the people in Mafrouza beyond preconceived generalizations. The slum proves to be a complex universe and its inhabitants vital masters of the art of living.

Birgit Kohler

Production: Les Films de la Villa, Paris; Studio National des Arts Contemporains du Fresnoy, Tourcoing; La Vie est Belle, Paris

Camera: Emmanuelle Demoris

Format: DigiBeta, Color

Running time: 164 min.

Language: Arabic

Funded by:

  • Logo Minister of State for Culture and the Media
  • Logo des Programms NeuStart Kultur