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Between Heaven and Earth

Between Heaven and Earth

Original Title: Bayn el Sama wa el Ard
Director: Salah Abu Seif
Egypt | Arabic
1960 | 100min. | Black & White
Subtitles: English
Format: 35mm
All Ages
Naguib Mahfouz – Man of Cinema
When Between Heaven and Earth was released in 1959, it was considered an artistic adventure fearlessly undertaken by director Salah Abu Seif. The action takes place in a single location –an elevator –over the course of an hour and a half. The film is in real time –its duration is the same as that of the events it depicts. Nothing is provided in the writing or the direction of the film to remedy this severely limited space. Further, there are neither flashbacks nor cut-aways into the thoughts of the actors as a means to reveal more about them and their trajectories.

It is a weekday afternoon in the unforgiving blast of Cairo’s summer heat, in a large building in the heart of the city. Developed by Naguib Mahfouz (who wrote the story specifically for the screen) and Abu Seif, the characters –among them a movie star, a thief, a madman, a cook and a pregnant woman –are archetypes that represent the different strata and classes of Egyptian society in the ’50s –classes that are still very much in place in Egypt today. This fact alone points to the timelessness and of a film that was first shown more than 50 years ago. Between Heaven and Earth remains a remarkable triumph of modern cinema.

–Ali Abu Shadi

Director,  Salah Abu Seif

Director,  Salah Abu Seif

Salah Abu Seif (1915-1996) was born in Cairo. He is considered to be the godfather of realism in Egyptian cinema, and many of the 41 films he directed are considered Egyptian classics. With The Beginning and the End (1961), he became the first filmmaker to adapt a Mahfouz novel. Their collaboration comprises seven films. Among his films are The Monster (1954), A Woman’s Youth (1956), The Tough (1957), Between Heaven and Earth (1960), Dead Amongst the Living (1960), starring then-newcomer Omar Sharif, The Water Carrier Is Dead (1977), Al Qadisiya (1981) and Citizen Masry (1991).

Cast and Crew

Director
Salah Abou Seif
Cast
Hind Rostom, Abdel Salam Al Nabulsi, Mahmoud El Meligi, Abdelmunim Ibrahim, Said Abu Bakr, Zizi Mustafa, Yacoub Mikhail, Ahmed Loksar, Abdel Ghani Nagdi
Production Company
Dinar Film
Music
Fouad El Zahery
Screenwriter
Naguib Mahfouz, El Sayed Bedeir, Salah Abou Seif
Editor
Emil Bahri
Cinematographer
Wahid Farid
Art Director
Hilmi Azab
Sound
Grigor
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