CAIRO: “The Aftermath of The Inauguration of The Public Toilet At Kilometer 375” directed by Omar El Zohairy is the first Egyptian student film to compete in the 2014 Cinéfondation competition at the Cannes International Film Festival.
Zohairy’s film is one of 16 that made the final lineup from 1,631 submissions.
“Aftermath” is Zohairy’s 2nd short film, as well as his graduation project from Egypt’s High Cinema Institute where he specialized in directing.
The film is about “a contemporary world subjugated by materialism, a government clerk who is not allowed to do anything except work and his relationship with a big corporation,” Zohairy told The Cairo Post, adding that it was a representation of the concept of fear, that he is “personally is obsessed with.”
“What a certain character is afraid of, what his fears are based on; those are all core ideas for me at that point of my life.” Zohairy said.
His first short was “Zafir,” or “Breathe Out,” which premiered at the 8th Dubai Film Festival, winning the Jury Special Mention Prize at Muhr Arab Short Competition. It also competed at 34th Montpellier Mediterranean Film Festival.
“Aftermath” was inspired the short story “Death of a Government Clerk” by Anton Chekhov, that tells the story of a man who dies when he is overcome by his fears.
“I wanted to make my graduation project, but in such a tight time, I could not work on a script on my own. So I asked scriptwriter Sherif Nagib to work with me on that,” Zohairy told The Cairo Post, adding that this time he functioned more as a director than a writer.
Franz Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis” is another major influence for Zohairy, he said.
“How the main protagonist dealt with his fear, and how the absurd unreal plot is treated as a realistic one, yet it still takes place in an alternate world,” he added.
Zohairy said he wanted his film to be that way, occurring in an alternate world yet seeming realistic regarding the drama and characters.
“Everything in the film had to be very real. But it was like an isolated part of the world on its own, extracted out of reality,” Zohairy told The Cairo Post.
The film reflects this sentiment, presenting a pale picture devoid of all emotions, except fear.
“I believe that laughing at your problems and desperate situations is much more powerful than crying about them. It builds tension, that is where the sarcastic humor in the film came from,” Zohairy said
Born in Cairo in 1988, Omar el Zohairy studied film directing at the High Institute of Cinema in Cairo.
During his studies he worked as an assistant for Yosry Nasrallah and Ahmed Abdallah among many other prominent film directors in Egypt.
The 2014 Cinéfondation and Short Films Jury will be presided by Abbas Kiarostami from Iran, supported by directors Noémie Lvovsky from France, Daniela Thomas from Brazil, Mahamat-Saleh Haroun from Chad, and Joachim Trier from Norway.