Two proposals on Netflix – Middle East edition

The Angel (2018)

One of the most interesting titles currently on Netflix is the film The Angel, whose historical component will certainly be a bonus point for those who keep tabs on international relations. Based on a true story, the film consists of a series of events which took place after the Six Day War (1967), with Ashraf Marwan, married to the daughter of the popular Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser, who would pass away during the events depicted in the film, rising in local politics and becoming a double agent for the Mossad.

In a particularly complicated context of regional politics, Ashraf builds a web of connections and schemes, with which he intends to avoid a bigger blood bath, which culminates in the unfolding of the Arab-Israeli War of 1973, also known as the Yom Kippur War, and the subsequent Camp David Accords.

This is a title which will no doubt please fans of espionage film, with the pacing of the action keeping the film fresh and stimulating until the very end.

Sand Storm (2016)

Within the independent movie aesthetic – filming techniques here won’t go unnoticed, as we realise the recourse to moving shots that give the filming a raw feeling while also making the viewer feel more “in the action” – Sand Storm tells the story of Layla, a Bedouin teenager who finds herself in a conflict between her dreams and goals and the impositions placed on her by her tribal belonging, in a markedly patriarchal culture.

The film begins with Layla’s father deciding to take a second wife, and the film explores the main character’s direct relationships, particularly through the dynamic that plays out with her mother, who happens to also live her own personal conflict. The action is mostly focused on the characters and their respective way of dealing with their circumstances, which grants the film a more intimist tone.

Sand Storm is a window to a distinct reality than that which would likely be its target audience, with a humanist and feminist filter and an earthly production that enriches the viewing experience. Although there isn’t a great exploration of the social organization of the community, this is still a title that nonetheless promises to open up one’s horizons and give us an idea of how life can be different.

For connoisseurs and lovers of film, Netflix recently included a few Egyptian cinema classics from the second half of the 20th century. By director Youssef Chahine, names such as Destiny, Saladin or Dark Waters will surely appeal to aficionados – they are, after all, a product of the era which became known as the “Golden Age of Egyptian Cinema”, and helped consolidate the country’s reputation as a big exporter of media and cultural products.

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