A film that’s high on my to-see list this year is Egyptian auteur Ibrahim El Batout’s latest – a Cairo-set action thriller titled “El Ott” (“The Cat” in English), which centers on the very topical matter of human organ trafficking in Egypt. In short, Egypt’s recent political upheavals, which left a temporary law enforcement gap in the country, reportedly allowed what have been called mob-led organ-trafficking rings to thrive.
Amr Waked (“Salmon Fishing in the Yemen”) is producing and starring in the film. He’s joined by Palestinian actor Mohammad Bakri, Egyptian actress-model Sarah Shaheen, and Egyptian actor Salah Al Hanafy, who played the sadistic security officer in El Batout’s lasty film, the acclaimed “Winter of Discontent,” which is set and filmed against the backdrop of the early days of the Egyptian revolution – specifically, the protests in Cairo’s Tahrir Square in January 2011 – interweaving multiple stories, including that of a political activist, a journalist and a state security officer.
The film drew some controversy because of its raw and honest handling of the volatile subject matter it tackles.
Like “Winter of Discontent,” “The Cat” is also produced by Waked and Al Hanafy’s Zad Communication & Production, which they launched after the 2011 Tahrir Square uprising, to make films depicting Egypt from new, uncensored angles.
In addition to “The Cat,” another one of Zad’s upcoming projects is “The Exile” by Atef Hetata, a romantic drama set against the backdrop of the real-life production of Giuseppe Verdi’s “Aida” at the 3,500-year-old Pharaonic Temple in Luxor, in 1987.
No word yet on an international premiere for “The Cat,” but it is set to open in Egyptian cinemas this month. While we wait, below is a teaser trailer for the upcoming film, which is followed by an on-set report – courtesy of Euromed Audiovisual – shot as the principal photography was winding down, after what was a “violent summer” in a Cairo that was under military-imposed curfew. As the report states: “Adapting his schedule to the curfew, he and his team filmed the film’s last scenes around the Egyptian capital, in the synagogue and Hanging Church of Old Cairo, at the Giza pyramids and inside a pharaonic-themed nightclub on the Nile.”
Teaser trailer below (on-set report underneath):