x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Khairy Beshara's Moondog gets its afternoon

Khairy Beshara has not released a film in 16 years. Now he's back with a vengeance.

Khairy Beshara's film Moondog mixes fact with fiction, including his canine transformation. Courtesy Khairy Beshara
Khairy Beshara's film Moondog mixes fact with fiction, including his canine transformation. Courtesy Khairy Beshara

The award-winning Egyptian film director Khairy Beshara, 64, is set to release his first feature film in 16 years - as soon as he finishes the colour correction phase and sets a release date. Twelve years in the making, the low-budget Moondog is part documentary, part fiction. The film mixes real events from the past decade of Beshara's life with his fictional disappearance and subsequent transformation into a dog, as well as his son's search for him.

What made you want to use real events in a clearly fantastical storyline?

When I make films it's like I'm making life, when I'm making life it feels like films. I can't know when life starts and cinema starts, it's all mixed.

How did your family feel about you using footage of their lives?

I don't show everything, seconds of our lives are still hidden, but it was important for me to think about my life and be honest with it. There was a part when I described what I loved about women, and my daughter, mortified, begged me to cut it out.

Your last feature films, Nutshell and Traffic Light were released in 1995. What made you leave cinema behind?

In 1996, I was at my peak as a professional film director, but I felt like a robot in the industry. At that year's Cairo International Film Festival, there was a scandal because the panel of judges awarded the prize to my film when the organisers wanted a different one to win. It was an accumulation of pains, but that was it for me. I decided: "No more professional work." I sold my car, faced up to the fact that I had no money, and started teaching myself digital cinema.

As one of the pioneers of digital cinema in the Arab world, what do you see its role being in Egyptian films?

For me, it's strange why this movement remains small. Even in the past two or three years, very few steps have been taken. Digital allows you to make a film with minimum crew, natural light and little or no budget, but something's wrong. Because what happened in Europe and the United States with low-budget films such as El Mariachi and The Blair Witch Project hasn't happened here. There's an ego problem that needs to be overcome.

What's next?

I started in the industry in the 1960s and I look to the 1960s as a golden era in the history of the cinema world, not just the Arab world. We're in a very critical moment in Egypt. The transition will take time. It's not like after a single year it's OK and there's no more chaos. In this environment, I want to make a movie that is not subjective and not a documentary. I want to make a film that reminds me of the golden age of cinema.