They say that after time has passed, all one has left are memories, and it is these photos that remain with us, serving as a constant reminder of how significant the moments from the past were to us, even though we didn't realize them at the time. Some of my recollections remind me of a field of flowers; each one is lovely regardless of color. These recollections include those from my youth—those cozy afternoons spent at home with my mother, in the kitchen watching TV and preparing delicious meals. I remember that my mother spent most of this time watching Egyptian television shows or films. This intrigued my interest and my curiosity to understand why Egyptian cinema was popular in Morocco and the Arab world generally.

Despite never having been there, I can confirm that I am pretty familiar with Egyptian culture and can understand 80% of what an Egyptian says, all thanks to Egyptian cinema. Being referred to as Arab Hollywood, I'm curious to explore, in this article, why the cinematographic industry is flourishing in Egypt faster than in other Arab nations. In essence, I aspire to delve beyond the surface of real facts and instead delve into the historical background of things, seeking to understand what has led to such remarkable outcomes. I invite you to accompany me into the world of Egyptian cinema, tracing its inception, and evolution, and exploring the most renowned works and iconic figures throughout its history.

Taking a step back in history, it was in 1895 that the first cinematic projection in Egypt took place, marking its humble beginnings. Certainly, historians do not all agree on the exact date, some say it was in 1895, and others refer to 1907. Whatever the exact date, this shows that the cinema in Egypt has been in existence for more than a century now. At first, the screenings were of European films and it was in 1912-1915 that the first film scenes were shot in Egypt. The first Egyptian feature film, Leila, was directed by Wadad Orfi.

The beginnings of Egyptian cinema owe their existence to the contributions of several remarkable individuals. One of the pioneers of Egyptian cinema was the director and producer from Alexandria, Togo Mizrahi. Born in Egypt to a Jewish family of Italian nationality, Mizrahi established a studio in Alexandria in 1959 and founded an Egyptian production company called "Sharikat al Aflam al Massriya." Between 1931 and 1946, he directed thirty-three feature films, predominantly comedies, and musical melodramas. In the 1930s, the advent of sound revolutionized the film industry worldwide, breathing new life into Egyptian cinema as well.

In 1935, Talaat Harb, the founder of Misr Bank, established Misr Studios, enabling Egypt to have state-of-the-art film studios at that time. With the foundation of these studios and the resurgence of local film production, cinema became one of the most profitable sectors in the country. Egyptian cinema gradually gained prominence not only on a national level but also regionally, particularly in the Middle East. This growth can be attributed to several factors, with the political and social context being among the most significant. It is worth noting that in 1942, the government took measures to protect the Arabic language.

Furthermore, one cannot evoke Egyptian cinema without mentioning its golden age. The 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s are generally considered the golden age of Egyptian cinema. In the 1950s, Egypt's cinema industry was the world's third largest. During this Golden Age, hundreds of films across all genres were produced, many becoming cinema classics. Among these was The Will produced in 1939, written and directed by Kamal Selim and starring Fatma Rushdi and Hussein Sedki. One of the first films to portray life in the slums of Egypt, it is considered by many including the Cairo International Film Festival to be the best Egyptian film ever made. Other notable films in this period are Cairo Station (1958) directed by the preeminent Egyptian filmmaker Youssef Chahine, El Haram (1965) known in English as The Sin, a social drama directed by Henry Barakat and starring Faten Hamama. Faten is the most honored actress in the Middle East and was named Star of the Century.

Amidst these developments, politics once again emerged as a prominent force. The 1952 revolution, which witnessed the dethronement of King Farouk and the rise of Gamal Abdel Nasser as President (1956-1970), left a profound imprint on the Egyptian film industry. Nasser, an ardent cinephile, adeptly harnessed films for political purposes and undertook the nationalization of the industry. With government funding readily available, a multitude of remarkable Egyptian films were produced during this era. This propelled Egypt to the esteemed rank of the world's third-largest film producer. However, following the denationalization of the industry in the 1970s, there was a noticeable decline in both the caliber and quantity of films, as cost-efficient productions took precedence to maximize profit margins. It was not until the 1990s that Egyptian cinema witnessed a renaissance in terms of artistic merit and global recognition.

In comparison to its booming past, the Egyptian cinema of today has undergone significant transformations. While the industry once flourished with a prolific output of films and international acclaim, the landscape has changed considerably. Technological advancements, globalization, and evolving audience preferences have all played a role in shaping the current state of Egyptian cinema. Today, filmmakers are grappling with the challenges of a saturated market, increased competition from international films, and changing viewing habits brought about by digital platforms. Despite these hurdles, there is a resurgence of creativity and innovation in Egyptian filmmaking, with directors exploring diverse themes, experimenting with storytelling techniques, and pushing artistic boundaries. Independent cinema has gained momentum, offering fresh perspectives and narratives that reflect contemporary Egyptian society. Furthermore, the rise of film festivals and international collaborations has provided opportunities for Egyptian filmmakers to showcase their work on a global stage. While the industry may not command the same scale and dominance as in its heyday, Egyptian cinema continues to evolve, adapt, and captivate audiences both at home and abroad.

In conclusion, memories hold a special place in our hearts as time passes. Among my cherished recollections, the cozy afternoons with my mother watching Egyptian television shows and films stand out. These experiences ignited my curiosity about the popularity of Egyptian cinema in Morocco and the broader Arab world. Through exploration, I discovered a rich history and cultural resonance that defined Egyptian cinema. Despite facing new challenges, the industry continues to evolve and inspire. The memories of those moments with my mother serve as a reminder of the enduring impact of Egyptian cinema, transcending borders and celebrating the power of storytelling. Let us embrace the vibrant legacy of Egyptian cinema and honor its timeless contributions to the world of film.