One of the hallmarks of the emerging Arab cinema has been its willingness to explore areas of society formerly considered off limits to the gaze of outsiders. Such was the world of Egypt’s psychiatric hospitals, forbidding institutions where those deemed incapable to adapting to society’s demands are warehoused, sometimes for decades. Marianne Khoury and Mustapha Hasnaoui reveal the inner workings of two such hospitals, introducing us to the committed if wildly overworked staff that do their best against overwhelming odds, but especially to the patients. We meet women sent there after an argument with their husbands, and middle-aged men living there since they were unruly boys. Rejected by normal society, these modern-day “social lepers” have created their own society, with its own conventions, hierarchies and forms of relationships, which Khoury and Hasnaoui reveal to us with insight, patience and respect. Winner of the International Critics’ prize at the 2010 Dubai International Film Festival.
This film has no current screenings