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ALBAQER AT BAR
Two filmmakers (Rodrigo Brum and Sama Waly) investigate events that led Egyptian state authorities to demolish the old village of Gourna, built sometime between the sixteenth and eighteenth century on the western bank of the Nile, across from the city of Luxor, above the ancient city of Thebes. Seven thousand Gournese have been relocated to a public housing project, accused of having built their homes atop the ancient tombs on the Theban Necropolis, and subsequently making tomb-raiding an age-old tradition. It has taken the government over a century to free the land for archeological research. An earlier effort to do so, following a scandalous theft of an entire rock carving in 1945, led the Department of Antiquities to commission Hassan Fathy—who would later become Egypt’s most famous architect—to build a model village, to lure the villagers into new modern homes. Fathy is famous as a pioneer in sustainable building and developed a philosophy of “appropriate technology” to resolve the housing crisis in Upper Egypt. A few months into building, Fathy’s new village flooded and the project halted. The villagers for whom Fathy dreamt to build a better life refused to move and his utopian village remains incomplete to this day. Today, seventy years later, the architect Tarek Waly, a former disciple of Hassan Fathy, dreams of rehabilitating Fathy’s village. Amidst the violent political turmoil in Egypt, the film follows Tarek from Cairo to Luxor as he views vernacular architectural heritage in terms of its poignant deterioration.

New Gourna, Luxor, Egypt, ca. 1950. Courtesy of Hassan Fathy Archives, Rare Books and Special Collections Library, American University in Cairo.

New Gourna, Luxor, Egypt, ca. 1950. Courtesy of Hassan Fathy Archives, Rare Books and Special Collections Library, American University in Cairo.

Rodrigo Brum
Dates of residency:
 July - August
Born: 1987
Lives and works: Egypt and Brazil
URL: 
Education: MA in Philosophy at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ)
MFA in Film, Video, New Media and Animation at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC)

Statement: 
Rodrigo Brum is a Brazilian filmmaker, currently based in Cairo. He holds an MA in Philosophy at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) and an MFA in Film, Video, New Media and Animation at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). He recently directed his first feature documentary, “Like Someone Who Hears a Very Sad Song” (in post-production), shot in the Cape Verdean archipelago, where he lived for almost a year. In Cairo, he works on his second feature-length, “My Father Looks Like Hassan Fathy”, and is part of the team of Ambient Light, a production company based in Egypt, where he produces the feature documentary “Za’atari Captains” (in post-production), directed by Ali Elarabi, and the documentary “Warda: l’algérienne" (in development), directed by Souheila Battou. His work has been supported by several grants and fellowships, including a MacDowell Fellowship (2017), and more recently the Graham Foundation Grant (2019), among many others. Rodrigo has taught philosophy and filmmaking in institutions in Brazil, United States, Cape Verde, and Egypt, where he worked as a visiting fellow at the Cairo Institute for Liberal Arts and Sciences (CILAS).