100 years of Egyptian Cinema, a timeline


On Thursday, the 5th of November, people watched the first film screening, in Toussoun Money Exchange, in the city of Alexandria.

On Saturday, the 28th of November, the first film screening in the capital, Cairo, took place, at Hammam Schneider’s Hall. It was 15 motion pictures of landscape, lasting for less than half an hour.


The inauguration of the first cinema, Lumière Cinématographe, in Alexandria and then in Cairo

In March 10, Monsieur Promio, envoy of Lumière Company in France, started to shoot the first cinema tapes of some landscapes in Egypt. They were 53 tapes. The first of them was entitled Le Place des Consuls à Alexandrie. This date is considered to be the beginning of the Egyptian cinematography.


The first talking projection in Egypt

The music disc was synchronizing with the tape of pictures, whether for some time or during the whole screening.  


The first foreign cinema newsreel to be projected in Egypt

It was entitled Le Journal Pathé and the screening was in Cinematographe Pathé in Alexandria.


In November 16, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligar, a silent expressionistic German classic, was screened in Cinema American Cosmograph, in Alexandria.


The real beginning of the Egyptian cinema was the screening of In the Land of Tutankhamun, the first Egyptian feature film, an 80-minute length about the discovery of the tomb of King Tutankhamun.

Mohamed Bayumi was the first Egyptian to stand behind a camera, as a producer, writer, director and photographer, using equipment and laboratories he purchased at his expense from Germany.

The short narrative (12 minutes) Barsoum Looking for a Job, was screened. It was photographed, directed and produced by Mohamed Bayumi and starring Bishara Wakim, Abdel Hamid Zaki, Mohamed Shafiq, and child Mohamed Youssef. It was intended to be a feature film, but when child Mohamed Youssef, son of Mohamed Bayumi, died, it was not completed.


Talaat Harb, the great Egyptian economist and founder of the first Egyptian bank, establishes a company for cinema industry. It was entitled Misr Film, which later became Studio Misr.


The first Egyptian Chamber of Cinema Industries is established, in Alexandria.

Leila is screened, which used to be considered as the first Egyptian feature film and the beginning of history of the Egyptian cinema – till the discovery of In the Land of Tutankhamun, by Victor Rosito. Leila was directed by Stefan Rosty (instead of Widad ‘Urfi who didn’t complete it), written by Widad ‘Urfi, and produced by Aziza Amir, starring Aziza Amir, Widad ‘Urfi, Stefan Rosty and Ahmed Galal.


On December 20, The Jazz Singer, the first talking film in the world, was screened in Egypt, 14 months after its screening in New York.


On April 9, Zeinab, the first film adapted from an Arabic literary work, was shown. It was written by writer and politician Mohamed Hussein Haikal Pasha and directed and adapted for cinema by Mohamed Karim, starring Bahiga Hafez, George Abiad and Sirag Munir. However, Mohamed Karim re-directed the film again in 1952, starring Raqia Ibrahim and Yehia Shahin. It was produced by Nahas Films


The first Egyptian talking feature film, Awlad El Zawat (Children of the Aristocrats), was screened, directed by Mohamed Karim, starring Youssef Wahbi, Sirag Munir, Collete D’Arville, Amina Rizk and Dawlat Abiad. The talking part was around 40% of the film.

The first Egyptian talking musical film, Onshodat El Foad (The Ode of the Heart), was screened, directed by Mario Volpi, starring singer Nadra, composer Zakaria Ahmed and actor George Abiad.


Widad, the first film of Studio Misr, was screened, marking a new stage in the history of film production in Egypt. It was directed by Fritz Kramp – story & dialogue written by poet Ahmed Ramy, and script written by Ahmed Badrakhan. It was the first cinema appearance of Egyptian singer Umm Kulthum, one of the most important singers of the Middle East and Arab countries, co-starring Ahmed Allam, Mukhtar Osman and Mahmoud El Miligi.

In the same year was the first participation of an Egyptian film, Widad, in an international festival, Venice International Film Festival in Italy.


In an unprecedented incident in Egypt, Lashin, directed by Fritz Kramp, was confiscated and banned from public screening on the same day it was approved to be shown, on March 17. It was banned by censors because it has “insinuations related to the Royal Highness and the regime”.

The story of the film revolves about political corruption and economic collapse and is ended by the will of the people realized in murdering the ruler and appointing a popular leader from the public.

Studio Misr had to make a different end in which the just sultan triumphs and enjoys the love of his people following a conspiracy schemed against him. The film was screened with the new end on November 14, 1938.


On November 6, El Azima (The Will), directed by Kamal Selim, was screened. It is one of the most important classics of the Egyptian cinema. Its importance derives from its being the first realistic film depicting daily life in poor Egyptian alleys, through popular characters and models, addressing unemployment, a problem devastated the Egyptian society in the late thirties.  

“Kamal Selim was an admirer of the French poetic realism. Despite his adopting some features of René Clair or Jean Renoir, he had an original style, more like the Italian Neorealism,” wrote George Sadol.


Anis Ebeid establishes the first laboratory for translating and subtitling films, in all languages.


The first Egyptian film fully in color, Papa ‘Aris (Dad is Groom), was screened – produced by  Nahas Films and directed by Hussein Fawzy, starring Na’ema ‘Akif and Kamal El Shinawy. It was in the Raw Color technique.


The first Egyptian film in color, Dalila, in the Cinema Scope technique, was screened – produced by Ramsis and directed by Mohamd Karim, starring Abdel Halim Hafiz and Shadia.


On September 22, the Higher Institute for Cinema was established.


For the first time, a literary work written by Naguib Mahfouz (a Nobel Prize Laureate in 1988), Bidaya w Nihaya (A Beginning and an End), was adapted for cinema.

The film was directed by Salah Abu Saif, starring Amina Rizk, Omar Sherif, Sana Gamil, Farid Shawky and Salah Mansour.


El Mumya (The Mummy), was screened in the opening of Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, for the first time in the history of the Egyptian cinema.

El Mumya is one of the most important films ever in the history of the Egyptian as well as Arabic cinema. Both script and dialogue were written by Shady Abdel Salam, and photographed by Abdel Aziz Fahmy. The film was starring Nadia Lotfy, Ahmed Mar’i, Zozo Hamdy El Hakim and Shafik Nour Eddin.  


The beginning of the first film festival, the Cairo International Film Festival, whose first director was Kamal El Malakh (1976-1983)


The Egyptian cinema celebrates the centennial of its birth. The most important hundred films in the history of the Egyptian cinema were selected.