Receiving Rave Reviews from Audiences and Critics at Cannes Film Festival
International Press: Clash is a Humanistic Message Sent to The World
Despite the fact that the events in director Mohamed Diab's film Clash take place inside a cramped police truck jammed with protesters, what truly drew the attention of the international press to the film following its world premiere at Cannes Film Festival was its humanistic flavor, while giving no certain political message or being biased to a specific party. This particular element was the main reason behind the positive reactions received by the film from both critics and audiences from around the world.
Variety magazine dedicated a special section to the Egyptian film where an article written by Variety's editor Nick Vivarelli titled "Not-So-Easy Access" took place reporting the new trend adopted by Arab filmmakers to present new topics in order to reach a wider audience on both local and international fronts. The article started off by focusing on director MohamedDiab's Clash, which opened the Un Certain Regard section last Thursday and prompted a wave of plaudits highlighted with rave reviews by critics and audiences alike. The article included a quote by Eric Lagesse (one of the film's co-producers along with Moez Masoud and Mohamed Hefzy), where he says, "There is a new generation of Arab directors who understand that they have to make movies with a more universal appeal... 'Clash' is "very dramatic, but also funny."
Vivarelli also interviewed director Mohamed Diab as part of a series of interviews conducted by the magazine with the outstanding filmmakers taking part in the festival. Critic Jay Weissberg also discussed the film in an article on Arab cinema censorship. In the article, Weissberg quoted Diab; "Everyone I know begged me not to make 'Clash', " Diab said. "They thought in troubled times like these, a political-action thriller would be very dangerous. Ironically, the film isn't really about criticizing the government or any side; it's more about self-discovery and the human condition." In a previous edition of Variety,
Weissberg had praised the film saying, "'Clash' might strike some as crossing too often into hysteria, yet this is bravura filmmaking with a kick-in-the-gut message about chaos and cruelty (with some humanity)."
On the Huffington Post website, Italian critic E. Nina Rothe made a strong statement about Clash: "Sometimes a film makes history even before it is screened." While Critic Alex Billington took to the First Showing website to express his opinion as well, "Amidst all of this chaos there are real moments of humanity, of connection. And I can't help but believe that's what Mohamed Diab was trying to show - that despite the constant fighting, we can connect. No matter who we are, we are all humans, all trying to survive. And he shows this beautifully."
The Hollywood Reporter described the film as one of the festival's hidden gems; with critic Deborah Young stating that the film "will be remembered as one of the most telling depictions of modern Egypt". She also adds that the film "remarkably, the film doesn't take sides. This in itself raises it above a purely political discussion in favor of a sweeping criticism of prejudice and inhumanity." She described the film's effect on viewers saying that, "The audience has the sensation of being a prisoner, too, caught unawares in a deadly squabble that grows in volume and intensity as the film goes on."
The Guardian's Benjamin Lee also complemented the film, "To explain the chaos that erupted after the Egyptian revolution, director Mohamed Diab has crafted an ingenious construct." Moreover, Jasmin Valjas of The Upcoming said, "The variety of characters is admirable, painting a highly diverse picture of Egyptian society, including all cliques, social groups and religious divisions."
In an interview with France 24, director Mohamed Diab said, "The challenge I faced was to create a humanistic film that is not boring and takes place in only one location." When asked whether he was worried about the film being politicized, Diab responded, "The film presents characters that express different political views, which make several producers hesitate to take part in it. However, as soon as the audience watched the film, they discovered that it does not revolve around political parties, it is actually a humanistic film and that proves that we succeeded in delivering the film's main message."
Previously, Screen International magazine had selected Clash as one of the most anticipated films in international festivals during 2016. Clash was the only Arab film placed by the magazine on the list which boasted 54 films from around the world.
As for Arab media, critic Hauvick Hab√©chian singled out a review on the film in the Lebanese An-nahar newspaper saying, "The Egyptian situation in the wake of the Arab Spring has become quite complex and hard to decipher. However, the film simplifies it so much to win over an audience that is not necessarily an expert in Egyptian affairs through dealing with a group of characters representing Egyptian society.
Through them, the film reaches ideas that transcend the geography and concepts of the place." Critic
Ahmed Shawky also reviewed the film in FilFan.com commenting that the film "is an outstanding work where its creators take steps forward in the film industry. It brought Egyptian cinema back to the limelight of Cannes Film Festival after long years of absence." Critic Ramy Abdel Razek also commented on the film on his Facebook page, saying, "Clash is an important, unique and mature experience in making an Egyptian political film." He also added that "The Diab brothers were able to summarize an entire decade of history in this downtrodden country with a police truck filled with contradictions, doubts and hatred as its setting."
Clash tackles the political unrest that prevailed in Egypt following the ousting of President Morsi. Co-written by Khaled Diab and Mohamed Diab, who is also the director, the film is a co-production between France, Egypt, Germany, and the UAE.
Most of the events in the film take place in a police truck, crammed with 25 detainees from both the pro and anti-Muslim Brotherhood camps, their interaction with each other full of madness, violence, romance, and comedy.
The cast includes Nelly Karim, Tarek Abd El Aziz, Hany Adel, Ahmed Malek, Ashraf Hamdi, Mohamed Abdel Azim, Gamil Barsoum and others.
Clash is a joint production effort between Arab and European companies: Film Clinic (Egypt), Sampek Productions (France), and EMC Pictures (UAE), in association with ARTE France Cinema (France), Niko Film (Germany), Fortress Film Clinic (UAE), and Pyramide International (France). Taking part in the project are producers Moez Masoud, Mohamed Hefzy, Eric Lagesse, and it is co-produced by Nicole Gerhards, alongside executive producers Jamal Al Dabbous and Daniel Ziskind. Mohamed Diab's wife, Sarah Goher also acted as a creative collaborator on the film, earning the title "Creative Producer". The film will be distributed in Egypt by Al Massa Art Production, while Pyramide International will distribute it in France and the rest of the world.