THE NIGHT OF COUNTING THE YEARS (AL-MUMIA), 1969, Shadi Abdelsalaam, Egypt, 102 min.
Introduced by Richard Peña, Professor of Film Studies, Columbia University
On any short list of the greatest Arabic-language films ever made, Shadi Abdelsalaam’s masterpiece—and only film—is based on the historical discovery of the unknown pharaonic tombs at Deir el-Bahri in 1881. Power in Horrabat tribe passes to Wannis, the younger son of the recently dead patriarch, who discovers his people’s secret: for years, the Horrabat have lived from robbing the unknown graves of “people without a name.” Museum officials from Cairo arrive, trying to discover the source of relics that have recently appeared on the black market. The stage is thus set for an epic confrontation between the forces of tradition and modernity, tribal loyalty and Egyptian national identity. Restored by Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Foundation.