The Egyptian film Ali, The Goat and Ibrahim by Sherif El Bendary has received a warm response from the audience, stars, and critics following its world premiere at the Dubai International Film festival (DIFF), as they expressed their admiration of the film on their Facebook pages, and with the filmmakers at the panel discussion that followed the screening.
Before the screening, the presence stood to observe a minute of silence in remembrance of the victims of the recent bombings in Egypt. The presence counted in the film crew; director Sherif El Bendary and producer Mohamed Hefzy, and the film stars Ali Sobhy, Ahmed Magdy, and Nahed El Sebai, along with writer Ahmed Amer. Many Arab stars were also in attendance, including: Dhafer L'Abidine, Bassem Samra, Khaled Abol Naga, Bushra, Ahmed Dawood, Fatma Nasser, Dora, director Mouhamad Keblawi, General Manager and Artistic Director of the Malmö Arab Film Festival (MAFF), director Magdi Ahmed Ali, producer Tarek El Ganainy, producer Hani Osama, General Manager of The Producers, critics Youssef Cherif Rizkallah, Tarek El Shenawy, Ahmed Shawky, Hovik Habashian, Intishal Al Timimi, Ali Wajih, Magdy El Tayeb, Lian Al Shawwaf, Safei El Din Mahmoud, Managing Director of Red Star.
The film that is competing in the Muhr Feature competition received wide acclaim from the presence, who expressed their admiration of the film on their Facebook accounts. Lebanese film critic Hovik Habashian described it as "The pearl of the Arab films at the Dubai International Film festival", Egyptian film critic Ahmed Shawky wrote "Sherif El Bendary's Ali, The Goat and Ibrahim...Awesome", Managing Director of Red Star, Safei El Din Mahmoud considered the film as "the film with the best sound editing in the history of Egyptian cinema", director and writer Eyad Saleh said "one of the best films of the Dubai International Film festival", and Tunisian journalist Karima Oueslati described it as "a real pleasure".
Following the screening, a panel discussion by the filmmakers took place, where director Sherif El Bendary thanked the film crew who helped make the film come out in this way, and then he talked about his film, "This film took me five years to make, from two years working on the script, which I enjoyed so much, to looking for financing, camerawork plus the work done in the post-production phase. There were many times when I felt that this film won't be completed, and even today, I was waiting to watch it on the screen to make sure that this film has been completed."
On the film's genre, El Bendary added, "From the beginning I realized that this film has nothing to do with commercial films, and it's also not like independent films that do not pay much attention to entertainment, but rather I see it in a middle zone where I think many films have to be. In the script stage, I found my film in this zone, where the very strong realism blends with magic."
About the film's release in theatres, producer Mohamed Hefzy said, "We plan to release the film in Egyptian theatres in 2017 across several cities, but we haven't decided on a date yet. We also plan to release the film in the Gulf countries, and we hope to release it in other Arab countries."
On the writing stage, writer Ahmed Amer said, "The film took a long time to be written as creating the characters and building the plot requireda lot of effort. The screenplay reached 17 copies."
Actor Ali Sobhy was inspired by his character in the film during the seminar, so he introduced himself jokingly, "I am a theater actor and I have already participated in a short film, this is my first experience in a feature film, and this is the first time to watch myself on a screen that wide...that's why I want to go to the bathroom now... but with the help of the film crew, I got into character to the extent that my friends started calling me bymy name in the film: Ali the Goat."
On the relationship between the characters (Ibrahim) and (Ali the Goat) in the film, actor Ahmed Magdy said, "What attracted me to play this role is that Ali and Ibrahim are the two sides of the same coin, and that each of them must learn from the other in order to be in harmony." While director El Bendary explained that the two characters are different, as Ali chooses to escape from reality, while Ibrahim lives in his dark world.
Actress Nahed El Sebai talked about her role in the film saying, "I started shooting my scenes in the film A Day For Women before El Bendary's film. At first I did not understand some aspects of the film, but I was impressed after I have watch edit now, and I found out that the size of the role doesn't matter as long as I feel good about the film as a whole."
After much acclaim for the sound quality, El Bendary said, "From day one, producer Mohamed Hefzy and Iagreed on the need to invest in the sound quality of the film, so we found the best studio, not in terms of money, but in terms of creativity, and this studio helped the film to come out with this sound quality."
Ali, the Goat and Ibrahim follows a strange love story of a young man living in a rough neighborhood. He travels across Egypt on the recommendation of a psychic along with Ibrahim who is almost driven mad by the voices he hears in his head. Their journey turns into a voyage of friendship and self-discovery.
And for the fact that Nada the Goat is the third side of triangle in the film, the audience were asking questions about her absence at the screening, when Ali Sobhy answered (joking as usual), "Unfortunately, Nada apologized for not being able to attend this event, but she has already signed a contract with producer Hefzy for a new TV series in Ramadan". Hefzy added "I agreed with producer Tarek El Ganainy that Nada the Goat will be a guest on SNL Arabia."
Directed by Sherif El Bendary, Ali, the Goat and Ibrahim is written by Ahmed Amer, based on Ibrahim El Batout's story and is produced by Mohamed Hefzy's Film Clinic, Transit Films of Hossam Elouan, and the French film production company Arizona Productions. The film's worldwide distribution is handled jointly by MAD Solutions and Film Clinic-Indie Distribution (FCID).
Ali, the Goat and Ibrahim introduces two acting prodigies; Ali Sobhy (Ein Shams - 2009) and Ahmed Magdy (The Gate of Departure - 2014), who star alongside Salwa Mohamed Aly and Nahed El Sebai.
The film had previously received three awards as part of the Final Cut in Venice Workshop at the 72nd Venice International Film Festival in 2015, namely; 10,000 Euros worth award presented by the Paris-based CNC foundation to be spent during the post-production phase in France; 10,000 Euros provided by the French Knight works to be spent on the visual and special effects; in addition to 10,000 Euros provided by Titra TVS to be spent on the digital colors correction, DCP bar and providing film subtitles into French or English.
The film has received a post-production fund from SANAD Fund, and the Arab Funds for Arts and Culture (AFAC) grant in 2009, in addition to funding support from Doha Film Institute in 2013, chosen among 211 projects applied for the scholarship, and also gained the support of the Dubai Film Fund and Enjaaz within Dubai International Film Festival.
Egyptian director Sherif El Bendary graduated from the Egyptian Higher Institute of Cinema (HCI) in 2007 and was appointed as a lecturer in the Film-directing department in 2008. El Bendary made his breakthrough into filmmaking through a number of short films and documentaries including his short film Curfew, a chapter that was part of the collective feature 18 Days, which was an official selection at the Cannes Film Festival 2011.