‘The Yacoubian building’ comes to the nation’s capital

Still from The Yacobian BuildingYesterday, we had a wonderful outing with Leilouta and her husband when we went to see the Egyptian movie The Yacoubian Building, which came to the nation’s capital as part of the DC film festival. The movie was as fantastic as expected. Based on the highly-acclaimed novel of the same name, the movie dissects Egyptian society through the lives of the residents of the Yacoubian Building — which exists in real life in Cairo.

The movie crosses many red lines in Egyptian society by discussing taboo issues such as homosexuality, corruption and fundamentalism, among others. The flick had all-star actors including Adel Imam, Yousra and Nour Al Sharif (whom I had the pleasure to meet some years ago in Doha).

Adel Imam was fantastic as usual. He played rich womanizer Zaki el Dousski brilliantly. He came across exactly as I imagined him while reading the book some months ago. He was charming with a great sense of humor. The cinematography in the movie was notable as it was quite expressive, showing tremendous development from that of my teenage days, when I watched Egyptian movies nonstop. The person introducing the movie at the festival said two things of interest. One: The actual residents of the building are suing the author and moviemaker, as the story is so close to their real lives. Two: This was the most expensive Egyptian movie ever made. Now, I can’t help but wonder: Are we witnessing a revival of the Egyptian cinema?

After the movie, we went to the nearby Ruby Tuesday to discuss the movie over dinner. We all had the same questions. Was the movie ever shown In Egypt? What was the reaction there? Was it censored? What about all the homosexual scenes? Were they shown in full? Any Egyptian readers out there? Can anyone shed light on this?

Categorized as Film

By Natasha Tynes

I’m a Jordanian-American journalist, writer, and media development professional based in Washington, DC.


  1. I haven’t seen the movie yet so I can’t comment, just wanna say that Adel Imam always does a fantastic job when he acts like a womanizer

  2. Hi Guys

    I have watched the film and I think it is the best of worst Adel Imam‘s film. The film highlight a lot of negative sides in Egyptian community but it is not good from my point of view. After you watched this movie you believe we have lost our value which is not true .There are still alot of good things in Egypt but who are in charge corruptor

    I am biased here because I dislike Adel imam .he has shaped the youth‘s dreams through his movies .if You watch carefully his movies you realize how he has influenced negatively on Arabic culture. In this film the only character was happy in the end of movies the alcoholic guy (played by Adel imam) who adopt western life .For example he believe ‘the pretty things should not covered he means headscarf.. It is like a hidden message saying our culture is not good which the Adel Imam ideology is in real life

    The movie was shown in Middle East without cut in scenes including homesexual scenes. In next Ramadan This move will be broadcasted as series without talking about homosexual topic .

    Finally the movie was produced by IMAD ADEBandthe former presenter in orbit channel coopertaing with SOAD younes ‘company .The movie cost around 5 million dollar. Guys you can watch the film on Google. video just click on the link:


  3. Hi there,

    I’m Egyptian so I’ll try to answer your questions:

    Was the movie ever shown In Egypt?
    – Yes it was, and it was a hit. It was the highest grossing
    film in Egypt in 2006.
    What was the reaction there?
    – People went to see it in droves. Feedback was split between those who loved it, and those who opposed it because: 1) they thought it painted only the negative side of the picture, and 2) they didn’t like the portrayal of homosexuality. Some members of parliament wanted it censored or banned, but they were unsuccesful.

    Was it censored? What about all the homosexual scenes? Were they shown in full?
    Nothing was censored. It was shown in full. However, one very strange thing that happened (in every single screening) was that during the part where the gay guy was crying because he lost his lover, people were laughing hysterically! They just couldn’t fathom the concept and thought it was hilarious.

    By the way, Aswani wrote a new book called Chicago that was just published. It’s set in the US. I wrote about it in my blog if you’re interested.

  4. Thank you GC for answering my question. I just read your review of Ala Aswani’s new book. Too bad you thought it was disappointing.

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