Last September, director Ahmad Abdalla released his second feature film, Microphone, which received a warm reception from the international film community. The film was praised as a magnificent artistic achievement in a variety of international film festivals. In the aftermath of Egypt’s revolution the film provides valuable insight into Mubarak’s Egypt. The film follows the protagonist Khaled as he returns home to Alexandria after years spent living as an expatriate in the United States. Though the film focuses on the underground music scene in Alexandria, Western audiences will find the peripheral motifs of brain drain, defeatism, police abuse, and political representation particularly relevant in light of recent events.
There are a few aspects of the film that limit its effectiveness at storytelling. For example, the sheer number of characters introduced in the beginning makes remembering how they are related to one another more difficult than it should be. Moreover, it is hard to connect with the film’s protagonist Khaled, though the creative inverse timeline used to show Khaled’s last encounter with his ex-paramour works well enough in explaining the main character’s situation that this difficulty is forgiven by the viewer. The music in the film serves its purpose well, though it might be unfamiliar to American audiences. Regardless, the film is a must see for those that want to better understand life in Mubarak’s Egypt, as it provides a unique perspective on the social challenges facing the country. The film portrays Egypt in a more organic form than one can find in most political analysis.