Ahmad Abdalla’s Egyptian film, Microphone, is that mix of documentary and storytelling that I find so fascinating. furthermore, the mix of professional actors and non-professionsls just being themselves works better than I’ve ever seen it. At first I viewed the film as a tone poem to Alexandria, Egypt. The director though, suggested the audience look at it in a broader context – with the microphone as a metaphor for self-expression and the freedom to practice it.
When Khaled (Khaled Abol Naga) returns home from working abroad, he meets with his former lover and Hadeer (Menna Shalabi) and discovers that now she herself is about to move abroad to discover her true choices in the outside world. She argues that Egypt is in the main closed to women. So the film is a statement about the need for self-expression on a personal level, as well as on a professional level
Alone (the film makes use of moving back and forth between the ‘breakup conversastion’ and his discovery of a whole new underground world of Alexandria that he had not been aware of) – Khaled immerses himself in an underground consisting of graffiti artists, documentary film makers, rap artists and musicians of all genres.
But, ahh, the music. Rich, boisterous, political, soulful, the soundtrack rocks out with a vibrant sound hard to contain in a theater environment. Just an assortment of amazing musicians, unheard of for the most part, even in their homeland. The film reverberates with the passion of art needing to be made, music needing to be heard. As one of the musicians said (paraphrased): “art requires a maker and a receiver. One is not complete without the other”. As I near my last festival day, this has become one of my favorites.