Documentary Films

DocuLogia - Critical Media Production


Doculogia – six years of production

DocuLogia’s expanding archive contains a large collection of audiovisual material generated through years of production. The archive represents historical and contemporary material on wars and civil conflicts, socio-cultural and political affairs in a stretched geography that covers modern history.

I Told President Mubarak

In 2009-10 we followed the Neo-Nasserite Egyptian MP, Hamdeen Sabahi, and did several interviews with him about his role in the Egyptian opposition. Although he had been a member of parliament for 15 years, he was jailed several times for his political opinion.

Hamdeen Sabahi was representing the district of Burullus in elections in both 2000 and 2005. During his electoral battles people of his constituency sacrificed themselves and several even died when trying to reach the election boxes and express their right to vote in the village of Balteem.

As the founder of Al-Karama (Dignity) party, Hamdeen Sabahi is a symbol of a long process of political activism. He was one of the first student leaders who had the courage to confront the former president Sadat on corruption and politics.

After the 25th of January Revolution in Egypt in 2011, Hamdeen Sabahi ran as a presidential candidate and came third, next to Ahmed Shafiq and Mohamed Morsi. He was the only presidential candidate who was against former Egyptian defence minister Abdel Fattah El-Sisi when he took power in May 2014.

Hamdeen Sabahy’s dream was to become a film director, but he went into politics instead. Still, he has a great passion for filmmaking and film directing.

Floating Community 

The film is about the social history and living conditions of the Cham community in contemporary Cambodia.
Cambodia was ravished by civil war, which lasted from 1975 to 1979. During this period the Khmer Rouge, led by Pol Pot, ruled the country and caused mass killing and destruction.
Pol Pot made urban dwellers move to the countryside to work in collective farms and on forced labor projects. The combined effects of executions, harsh working conditions, malnutrition and poor medical care caused the deaths of approximately 25 percent of the Cambodian population.
 The Cham community was specially effected by the war.

Eye in Hand – Eşref Armağan

The Turkish painter Eşref Armağan was born blind and has never been able to see. He taught himself to draw and paint at the age of six after wondering if he could paint the things he was feeling with his hands in a way others would understand.

With his unique ability to make 3D drawing and color paintings despite his visual disablity, Eşref Armağan has changed our understanding of visuality and hence the world.

The documentary follows Eşref Armağan as he is invited to take part in one of Europe’s most important cultural events, the Manifesta in Spain 2010, in a meeting between art, culture and modern science.

We thought pictures have to do with the eye, but now it seems it has to do with perception, which can either be experienced through the eye or through touch.

To Eşref Armağan, his ‘eyes’ are his hands.

Maldives To Be or Not

During our trip to the Maldives we noted the parodies captured between Western culture and its long tradition of romanticizing the imagery of the East.

The Maldives today is wavering between the fiction of the West and the reality of the East, and the islanders are at the conjunction of Edward Said’s theoretical duality “West is Culture, East is Nature”. In 2007 Maldives even became the first country to open an Embassy in Second Life, the online virtual world, adding more confusion to the country’s fictional reality.

Our journey to the Maldives is about the East coming into its own. We meet the Maldivian community, the Dhivehi people, which means “the islanders”, not as anthropologists, colonialists or journalists, but as citizens of the Arab world who want to learn what’s left of the shared history and how this amphibious nation is treating its contemporary culture in relation to its ecological strengths and weaknesses.

The Shadow of San Anton

The Shadow of San Anton investigates the history and rumors surrounding a central prison in Spain that is about to be abandoned. Just as the prison is about to close, doors to its hidden past are opened, but it is difficult to make people talk.

The documentary recounts the history of San Anton Prison from its establishment at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War, over the Franco Dictatorship, to its current image as an open prison about to be transformed.

People of Cartagena tell about the horrors that took place inside the prison, horrors that somehow escaped the history books. With their help we have been able to explore the prison and listen to its tales, thereby recollecting or rewriting a dark chapter of Spanish history, helping it to step out of the shadow and into the light.

Café El Fishawy – Program 2 (Arabic)

For more than two centuries, El Fishawy café has been an inviting respite within the labyrinthine tangle of the 14th-century Khan el Khalili bazaar in Cairo.

Café El Fishawy played host to artists, musicians, students and intellectuals, including – most famously – Nobel laureate Naguib Mahfouz who wrote parts of his prize-winning Cairo Trilogy in a back room there. Ahmed Rami, who used to write songs for Umm Kulthum, also frequented the coffee shop. Even King Farouk once sat in one of its narrow halls.

Between 2012 – 15 we invited Munir El Fishawy, Wajdi al-Hakim, Gamal el-Ghitani, Amin El Deeb and Volkhard Windfuhr to talk about their relation to the café and the social and political history of Egypt. Several secrets about the history of famous songs and political events were revealed for the first time during the interviews.

Café El-Fishawy is a feel-good TV documentary series reflecting the compassionate relation between man and his physical surroundings, focusing on events related to social and cultural life, politics and history, thus turning places into witnesses of historical events through personal stories.

The program provides first hand historic knowledge from central figures who are unique because of their accomplishments, history, and intervention in the public realm and for raising critical issues and debate them in Egypt and across the Arab world. Most of them have suffered socio-political setbacks, which they had to fight individually or collectively in the name of social justice and equality, to change their own lives and the lives of others for the better.

Munir El Fishawy is one of the inheritors of Café El Fishawy. He works as a journalist and is an important link to the people and history of the place.

Wajdi al-Hakim was an Egyptian journalist and one of the Arab world’s most known radio presenters. Since the beginning of his media work in the Union of Radio and Television in Cairo he conducted interviews with personalities such as President Gamal Abdel Nasser and he was the only journalist to interview the Egyptian singer Umm Kulthum.

Wajdi al-Hakim, passing away one year after the recording of this interview with him at Café El Fishawy.

Gamal al-Ghitani, was a novelist, short story writer and journalist. He was apprenticed as a child with a carpet maker, and worked in one of the Khan el-Khalili factories, before becoming a war correspondent for the Egyptian newspaper Akhbar al-Yom. He later founded Akhbar el-Adab, Egypt’s most prominent literary publication, which was viewed as an independent voice, often critical of the state. Gamal al-Ghitani passed away in 2015.

Egyptian poet and songwriter Amin El Deeb is one of Egypt’s most known spontaneous public poets. He has written several songs for known Egyptian and Arab singers, and he was arrested several times by the Mubarak regime for his political opinions and poems.

In the interview he revealed the very village and place where the song Taht El Shagar Ya Wahiba (Under the trees oh Wahiba) was written, a song that was made known by the famous singer Mohamed Roshdy (1928-2005).

Volkhard Windfuhr is a German journalist and Arabist. For over 25 years he was correspondent for the German paper Der Spiegel in Cairo and the Middle East. He has conducted interviews with Libyan President Mouamar Kadafi, Sudanese President Jafar Nomiri, and Imam Khomeini.

Out of Gaza (trailer)

The documentary reflects the situation of Gaza in difficult times after the war in January 2009, seen through the eyes of a young Palestinian.

Like many young Palestinians, Nidal Abu Arif left Gaza to live in exile more than 10 years ago. Since then, he did not have the chance to go back, but after the Gaza War ended, Nidal decided to return and experience the conditions of post-war Gaza.

Several factors motivated Nidal to go back. The most important were the images he saw on TV screens. The propaganda and counter-propaganda of both Israeli and Arab TV stations made him question all second-hand information and decide to experience Gaza first-hand himself.

The documentary in four parts examines post-war Gaza seen through the eyes of Nidal on a journey to the largest existing open-air prison.

Beirut Skinhead Movement

This investigational film is not a scientific production by any means. It is built up around street gossips about a natural phenomenon visible in the streets of Beirut. In our quest for an explanation to why the majority of men in the city of Beirut lose their hair early in life, we discover that people are aware of the problem, but no one really knows why it exists. The phenomenon itself is no longer at question since almost all men in Beirut are without hair or in the process of losing it.

While searching for an explanation to the growing number of bald heads, we learned much about the different hypotheses, and the terms used on the street for bald people or skinheads. Ajlah, Aslaa, Aqraa, Ahlat and Zalabita all means head without hair ‐ a bald head.

Quest for the Brotherhood (trailer)

Quest for the Brotherhood is a documentary in four parts that takes a closer look at the socio-political conditions and activities of the Muslim Brotherhood organization and its relation to the Egyptian government in 2008.

Since its establishment, the brotherhood committed itself to work in the social arena, providing comprehensive social programs to those in need. Today, the social work of the brotherhood is very visible across the Egyptian society, which calls for an investigation of the social activities and the political motives in this regard.

The documentary is based on interviews with members of the Brotherhood, some of the organization’s most known critics, historians, politicians, members of parliament and the head of the organization. This is combined with visits to poor neighborhoods where the Brotherhood is active, for example in the cemeteries, which have developed into residences for some of the poorest people in Egypt.

Mapping the South

At the end of hostilities between Lebanon and Israel, which remained for 33 days, many Lebanese expatriates traveled to their native country to see what the war had left.

A travel along the border to Israel witnessed the destruction of war. Mapping the South discusses the question of existence ‐ on the map, on the ground and in our memory.

Mobile Zones

Mobile Zones documents the tense border situation between Israel and Lebanon just months before the full escalation of events in the summer of 2006.

The film is about a simple phone call with an impossible satellite signal. It was shut at Mutilla, Israel, and near Fatima’s Gate, Lebanon, in spring 2006.

Al Serkal Charity Project in Cambodia

The story of the central mosque in Phnom Penh dates back to the 1970s when Sheikh Nasser Bin Abdullatif Alserkal of the United Arab Emirates built the first and largest mosque by the Beng Kak lake site, which is now a dry land, after the Cambodian civil war had come to an end.

The war lasted between 1975 and 1979 and during this period the Khmer Rouge ruled the country and destroyed over 140 mosques and institutions, leaving the Muslim minority in an obscure position after the destruction of their social-cultural and architectural identity.

After nearly 40 years and due to lack of maintenance, the central mosque in Phnom Penh has deteriorated beyond repair. In 2015 Sheikh Issa Alserkal, the son of Nasser Bin Abdullatif Alserkal, decided to come to Cambodia and build a new mosque for the Muslim community in Cambodia.

The Long Egyptian Film (forthcoming)

The Long Egyptian Film is a documentary about Karim Al-Husseini who was born in Libya of Palestinian parents, grew up in Egypt, migrated to the US, joined the American Army and fought against Sadam’s army between 2003 and 2008 in Iraq. He is related to Haj Mohammed Effendi Amin Al-Husseini, the former Grand Mufti of Jerusalem.

Karim Al-Husseini wanted to change the Arab world by joining the American Army. Later he is convinced that best way to make change happen is by joining the protesters in Cairo’s Tahrir Square.
Today Karim is a visual artist and musician, known in the cultural circles of Cairo as the artist and activist, not as the military man. After serving in the Marines he is trying to fight the Israeli occupation his own way, from distance, by producing resistance art.

Karim dreams to visit the family house and land in Jerusalem, which he has never seen, and invited us to film him during his trip. During the trip, he reflects on his background and history, the current reality, and prospects for the future in a time of political change.