The City of the Dead

62 minutes

With his previous feature, 2004's acclaimed Lisboetas, Portuguese documentary filmmaker (and former director of the DocLisboa festival) Sérgio Tréfaut went in search of the immigrant communities hiding in plain sight in Lisbon. For A Cidade dos Mortos, he traveled to Cairo in search of the community hiding in plain sight in the Egyptian capital's graveyards, one million people living in an area a quarter the size of the city, side by side with the tombs and mausoleums to the leisurely rhythm of what almost seems a country village within the borders of the metropolis.
Neither tourist postcard nor social pamphlet, A Cidade dos Mortos is instead a prolonged, attentive look at a community that has learned to live with death in a way very little modern societies do, within the framework of what is commonly designated as "cinéma du réel", looking for narrative threads within real life but without forcing them in any way. The main drawback of mr. Tréfaut's voyage into the City of the Dead (as the cemeteries are known in Cairo) is that, at merely an hour's length, this compelling documentary is more of an appetizer than a main course; some more detail and context would have been welcome, though this should not discourage the viewer. For its commercial release, A Cidade dos Mortos has been paired with the 20-minute short Waiting for Paradise (2010), where mr. Tréfaut and his editor, Pedro Marques, assembled footage of wedding parties taking place at the cemetery that didn't fit the longer feature.

Directed and produced by Sérgio Tréfaut; narrated by Ashraf Fakhoury; camera (colour), Nancy Abdel-Fattah, Inês Gonçalves, Carlo lo Giudice; sound, Sameh Gamal; film editor, Pedro Marques.
A Faux/Ático Siete presentation/production, with financial support from the Portuguese Ministry of Culture-Institute for Cinema and Audiovisual, Radio and Television of Portugal, Junta de Andalucía, Canal Sur, YLE-Teema. (Portuguese distributor and world sales, Faux.)
Screened: DVD, Lisbon, March 20th 2011. 


Anonymous said…
thanks for posting this.

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