Egyptian Villa 69 this weekend at the Goethe Centre
The 2013 Abu Dhabi Film Festival Jury Prize Winner “Villa 69”, by Ayten Amin, Egypt, 2013, will be premiered in Namibia by AfricAvenir on Saturday, 25 October, 19h00, at the Goethe Centre in Windhoek. Entrance is N$30.
Villa 69 is the first long-narrative movie of director Ayten Amin, starring Khaled Abu el-Naga, Arwa Gouda and Lebleba. Khaled Abol Naga, one of Egypt’s star actors, delivers a nuanced and dynamic performance.
Director Ayten Amin provides a new take on the old subject of a dying man taking stock of his life through the film Villa 69. Almost all the action takes place in a spare, well-designed villa beside the Nile where architect Hussein has closed himself off from the world.
The location enhances the idea of frailty. The Nile itself is not gleaming with blue beauty, but is characterised by overgrown weeds and murky waters; a type of faded beauty.
The main character, Hussein, a moody architect, lives lonely due to his strange ideas, but his life starts to change after the intervention of his sister and her grandson.
Hussein is ordered, grumpy and set in his ways, but loves the company of women particularly his nurse who visits on a regular basis, and his much younger girlfriend.
A testy contrarian of the old school, unafraid to volunteer his opinion, Hussein is, deep down, a kind, perceptive aristocrat who has seen his world slowly expire.
Remaining in his home, he keeps crass outsiders at bay while hiding his illness from view, except from his visiting nurse.
Soon after Hussein’s servant takes a leave of absence, his sister Nadra (played by Egyptian acting legend Lebleba) turns up saying she needs to stay, as her own home is being repainted.
She’s not alone: Besides her maid and driver, she’s got her 18-year-old grandson in tow.
Hussein is not happy about any of this, wanting to be left in peace except for occasional visits by his much younger photographer girlfriend.
Hussein gets increasingly angry with those around him, but he also bonds with his sister’s grandson, Seif, which leads him to dwell on his own life.
Amin portrays the nature of familial relationships in Egypt with authenticity; the tension between Nadra and Hussein over their parents’ properties and the strained relationship that softens with the approach of death.
The film is worth seeing, and despite the despondent subject, it is neither depressing nor sad, but greatly realistic.