The Giraffe (2018) ** Marrakech International Film Festival 2018
Dir: Ahmed Magdy | 75’ | Drama, Egypt
Ahmed Magdy was the star turn in Ahmad Abdalla’s lively musical drama Microphone (2010), Giraffe is his first feature film after three short documentaries and a notable acting carreer. Magdy also wrote the script for the film, which has Amr Hosny, Shaza Moharram, Haidy Qousa, Salma Hassan, Rasha Magdy, Mohamed El-Badawy and Osama Gawesh.
THE GIRAFFE follows the rather lost and lonely character of Ahmed who roams around a ghostly Cairo, mostly at night. It’s an aesthetically appealing mood piece with some creative camera angles and a strong sense of place but the potent visual allure is not enough to carry its vague dramatic arc and shady characterisations. In the Egyptian city of disenchanted drifters, we are led to believe that Ahmed is trying to save a stranger in urgent need of an abortion but doesn’t tells us why, although it does highlight an Egyptian healthcare in crisis. The story drifts from one scene to the next and offers no real dramatic heft to retain our attention, despite its short running time. A plotline involving a giraffe that has disappeared from Giza Zoo also feels unconvincing and Ahmed appears to be lost in his own surreal madness without any plausible backstory. The female characters seem equally lost in their own issues: two appear to be seeking abortions but again this strand is enigmatic and largely unresolved and sadly does nothing to bolster the encouraging message of female empowerment that it coming out of the festival, supporting the film community across the Arab world. Magdy has a powerful artistic vision and THE GIRAFFE would work very well as a short but as a feature length drama it needs a stronger script to carry its potential message forward. MT
SCREENING DURING MARRAKECH INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2018