Tamer El Said

Last updated
Tamer El Said
Born (1972-08-14) 14 August 1972 (age 46)
Cairo, Egypt
OccupationFilm director, producer, writer
Years active1998–present
Website www.lastdaysofthecity.com

Tamer El Said (Arabic: تامر السعيد, born 1972) is an Egyptian filmmaker. He wrote, produced and directed numerous films including Take Me (2004), an award winning documentary about five friends who unwittingly became political prisoners in Morocco, and the short film On a Monday (2005) on an old married couple who rediscover their relationship. His first fiction feature In the Last Days of the City was shot in Cairo, Berlin, Baghdad and Beirut and premiered in 2016 at the Berlin International Film Festival. He is co-founder of several independent initiatives in Cairo, including Cimatheque Alternative Film Centre, Mosireen, and Zero Production.

Egypt Country spanning North Africa and Southwest Asia

Egypt, officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a country spanning the northeast corner of Africa and southwest corner of Asia by a land bridge formed by the Sinai Peninsula. Egypt is a Mediterranean country bordered by the Gaza Strip and Israel to the northeast, the Gulf of Aqaba and the Red Sea to the east, Sudan to the south, and Libya to the west. Across the Gulf of Aqaba lies Jordan, across the Red Sea lies Saudi Arabia, and across the Mediterranean lie Greece, Turkey and Cyprus, although none share a land border with Egypt.

Berlin International Film Festival annual film festival held in Berlin, Germany

The Berlin International Film Festival, usually called the Berlinale, is a film festival held annually in Berlin, Germany. Founded in West Berlin in 1951, the festival has been held every February since 1978 and is one of the "Big Three" alongside the Venice Film Festival and Cannes Film Festival.


Mosireen is a non-profit media activist collective that came together to document and transmit images of 2011 Egyptian revolution. Between 2011 and 2014 the group produced and published over 250 videos online, with a focus on street politics, state violence and labour rights. From 2014 onwards they worked on organising, annotating and cross-indexing what was thought to be the world's largest video collection of material from the 2011 Egyptian revolution, which was published online in January 2018 as 858: An Archive of Resistance.


Early life

Tamer El Said was born in August 1972 in Cairo, [1] Egypt. His father Ahmed El Said wrote for the 70s famous children's radio program, A Song and A Tale. [2] In spring 1991, El Said was detained for six weeks by State Security after participating in a students' strike in a demonstration against the participation of the Egyptian troops in the First Gulf War. [2] He studied Film Directing at the High Institute of Cinema, graduating 1998 with Honourable Mention, and received his diploma in 2002.

Cairo Capital and largest city of Egypt

Cairo is the capital of Egypt. The city's metropolitan area is one of the largest in Africa and the 15th-largest in the world, and is associated with ancient Egypt, as the famous Giza pyramid complex and the ancient city of Memphis are located in its geographical area. Located near the Nile Delta, modern Cairo was founded in 969 AD by the Fatimid dynasty, but the land composing the present-day city was the site of ancient national capitals whose remnants remain visible in parts of Old Cairo. Cairo has long been a centre of the region's political and cultural life, and is titled "the city of a thousand minarets" for its preponderance of Islamic architecture. Cairo is considered a World City with a "Beta +" classification according to GaWC.

After graduating, he worked for a couple of years as 1st AD on some of Egypt’s bigger feature films, then spent a year directing high end commercials while teaching at both the High Institute of Cinema and the Actor’s Studio in Cairo. In 2002 he took on the role of Senior Producer and Artistic Consultant for Nile Productions, moving across to Hot Spot in Dubai in 2003. His time as Senior Producer at Hot Spot saw the company expand dramatically, producing 250 documentaries in 58 countries, and winning several international awards. [3]


Between 1994 and 2004, El Said wrote, produced and directed numerous award-winning shorts and documentaries including On a Monday (2004) and Take Me (2004). In 2006 he co-wrote the feature film Ein Shams (Eye of the Sun, 2008) with Ibrahim El Batout, and later started filming a long-term project about the village of Aytaroun which was destroyed in the 2006 war in Lebanon. In 2008, El Said began working on his first feature film In the Last Days of the City. Shot in Cairo, Baghdad, Beirut and Berlin, the film is on the lives of a group of friends from Egypt, Iraq and Lebanon have been shaped by their cities of birth and the instability of their region. [4]

Ein Shams is a 2007 film.

Ibrahim El Batout is an Egyptian filmmaker, based in Cairo, Egypt. Born in Port Said on 20 September 1963.

In 2007, El Said founded Zero Production, an independent production company in Cairo. Zero Production supports independent filmmakers in Cairo and the region whether directly producing, lending equipment or offering work space. El Said is currently in the process of setting up, with Khalid Abdalla and others, Cimatheque, an alternative film centre that aims to offer services and space to help develop and incubate the independent film movement in Cairo through building networks, sharing resources and building an infra-structure for the alternative film platform. [5]

Khalid Abdalla British-Egyptian actor

Khalid Abdalla is a British Egyptian actor and activist. He came to international prominence after starring in the 2006 Academy Award-nominated and BAFTA-winning film, United 93. Written and directed by Paul Greengrass, it chronicles events aboard United Airlines Flight 93, which was hijacked as part of the September 11 attacks. Abdalla played Ziad Jarrah, the pilot and leader of the four hijackers on board the flight. He starred as Amir in The Kite Runner and acted with Matt Damon in Green Zone, his second film with director Paul Greengrass. Abdalla appears as himself in Jehane Noujaim's documentary on the ongoing Egyptian revolution, The Square, which won the Audience Award at Sundance Festival in 2013.

El-Said is member of National Culture Policy Group, an initiative launched in 2009, with the aim to propose a plan of action to better organise cultural endeavours in Egypt. [6]


In the Last Days of the City , Fiction, 118 min, 2016
On a Monday , Fiction, 10 min, 2005
Take Me, Documentary, 52 min, 2004
Music of the nets, Documentary, 26 min, 2000
Crisscross, Fiction, 20 min, 1998
Like a feather, Fiction, 12 min, 1996
Charlie, Fiction, 8 min, 1995
18 September, 12 min, 1994

In the Last Days of the City (Akher Ayyam Al Madina)
"In the fading grandeur of downtown Cairo, Khalid, a 34 year old filmmaker is struggling to make a film about a city in which everything he loves is leaving him. He is about to be kicked out of his house, the woman he loved is emigrating, and the death of his father has awakened memories of life before childhood death of his sister when Cairo and his country seemed a brighter world. Now, all around him, dreams as much as buildings are disintegrating, but the need to keep going has not. Capturing the stories of his friends at home, and abroad, in Beirut and Baghdad and Berlin, Khalid learns how to live and keep creating, in the face of ruin, of war, and disappearing hopes." [7]

Cast: Khaled Abdalla
Writer: Tamer El Said
Producers: Tamer El Said, Khalid Abdalla and Cat Villiers
Film status: in post-production
Art Director: Salah Marei
Production Company: Zero Production Autonomous Limited [8]

Director's Quote: "I am making this film out of love for my city and because I want to show its contradictions – its rising violence and invisible magic, and the story of our silence as we watch our cities being conquered by oppression, ignorance and extremism. In Cairo, like in every other city in the Middle East, there is the feeling that we can’t keep going like this – the end is near, and it might be violent." [9]

The late art director Salah Marei worked closely with Tamer El Said on the location sets for the film, "[h]e took notice of every little aspect, even the door knobs, keys and keychains.” They looked at more than 60 apartments to find the most suited one for the film, deciding upon the color of the walls to match the skin tones of the two main actors. [10]

On a Monday (Yom al-Itneyn)
The 10-minute fiction, produced in Egypt in 2005, was screened at more than 51 festivals in 24 countries, and scooped nine international and local awards. It is on when love emerges in the details in this innovatively simple day-in-the-life story of a married couple who one random Monday discover each other anew due to a change in routine. On a Monday received several prizes at international film festivals including the prize for Best Short Film in Cairo, and the Silver Falcon at the Arab Film Festival in Rotterdam.

Cast: Hanan Youssef, Boutros Ghali
Writer/Producer/Editor: Tamer El Said
Cinematographer: Ibrahim El Batout

• Special Jury Award, Sakia Festival for Short Feature Films, Cairo 2005
• Best short film, “Image Encounter”, Cairo 2005
• Best short film, 11th National Film Festival for the Egyptian Cinema, Cairo 2005
• Silver Hawk for short fiction, 5th Arab Film Festival, Rotterdam 2005
• Best short film, 2nd Al-Fayoum Short Film Festival, Egypt 2005
• Ebenseer Bear in Silver, 33rd Festival of Nations, Austria, 2005
• Best film “Faucon d’OR” at 22nd Kelibia International Independent Film Festival, Tunisia, 2005
• Special Jury Award, Mediterranean 3rd Short Film Festival Tangier, Morocco, 2005 [3]

Take Me (Ghaeir Khodoni)
Egypt/UAE, 2004, 53 min. Borrowing its title from a famous song of Moroccan leftist activists, Take Me is a powerful story of an undefeatable will to survive: for one's country, for one's family, and to tell the story of one's life. The film revisits the harrowing memories of a group of Moroccan men who as young activists were ”kidnapped,” tortured, and held in isolation without explanation or a trial. Through the grim subject matter the bonds of friendship they formed through shared experience and their hope for a more just Morocco rise to the surface. The film, produced by Al-Jazeera, won the 2004 Ismailia Film Festival Prize.

Writer: Assaad Taha
Producer: Hot Spot Films
Cinematographer: Zaki Aref
Editor: Mona Rabie
Music: Amir Khalaf


El Said co-founded Cimatheque, a multi purpose space dedicated to celebrating film and supporting the needs of independent filmmakers in Egypt. Built in the context of Egypt’s emergent alternative cinema scene and a country in transition, it is conceived as a dynamic work space for independent filmmakers to collaborate, research and network, while addressing essential needs: education, screening and resources. Equipped with a screening room, viewing stations and a specialised library of films and books, Cimatheque aims to enable access to films rarely, if ever, shown in Egypt, featuring a rich variety of international films within a wider screening programme that gives essential exposure to Arab and Egyptian independent films. Alongside this, Cimatheque provides a year round educational programme of workshops and courses focusing on key issues like producing, screen-writing, editing and camera work, bringing together local and international filmmakers and industry professionals to exchange skills and experiences. Hosting an analogue film laboratory and accordant training programme, filmmakers are allowed to work with alternative methodologies and film material at affordable rates. Open to the public and filmmakers of all levels of experience, Cimatheque is planned to be a hub for filmmakers and film lovers alike, working to build a strong platform for alternative cinema in Egypt. [11] [12]

Alongside the screening facilities, the Cimatheque space is also planned to feature a cafeteria, workshop space, video library and a laboratory for hand processing and digitalising super 8mm and 16mm film. [13]


Together with Khalid Abdalla, Aida El Kashef, Lobna Darwish, Amr Gharbeia, and Omar Robert Hamilton, Tamer El Said founded [14] Mosireen (means insisting/determined) which have created Tahrir Cinema, erected in the Tahrir square during the January 25th Egyptian revolution. With more members to join at later stages, including Salma El Tarzi, Salma Shamel, Mai Saad, Salma Said, Philip Rizk, Mostafa Bahgat, Jasmina Metwaly, and Sherief Gaber; Mosireen became a 10 member Anarchist revolutionary media collective, located in Downtown Cairo with the aim of supporting all kinds of media. Tahrir Cinema featured a daily set of screenings, mainly of raw footage of the revolution, using a projector it brought material to mass audiences, in the place that is the heart of the revolution. [15]

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Kal Naga Egyptian actor

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  1. "On a Monday". CinemaEast Film Festival - ArteEast. Retrieved 23 November 2012.
  2. 1 2 Director's note http://www.lastdaysofthecity.com/
  3. 1 2 Irit Neidhardt. "Traces of Change in Egypt" (PDF). mecfilm.de. Retrieved 7 December 2012.
  4. "In the Last Days of the City". International Film Festival Rotterdam.
  5. "Think:Film". Arsenal – Institute for Film and Video Art. Retrieved 23 November 2012.
  6. "Egyptian artists call for end to politicisation of culture". 25 September 2012. Ahram Online. Retrieved 23 November 2012.
  7. "Website of In the Last Days of the City".
  8. "In the Last Days of the City – by Tamer El Said". Cinereach.org. Retrieved 1 December 2012.
  9. "Tamer El Said". Abu Dhabi Film Festival. Retrieved 23 November 2012.
  10. Menna Taher and Wael Eskandar. "Remembering Salah Marei". 7 March 2011. Ahram Online. Retrieved 23 November 2012.
  11. "Network of Arab Arthouse Screens - Naas". ArteEast.
  12. "Cimatheque". Facebook.
  13. Melanie Goodfellow (16 December 2012). "Cairo to get first indie screen". Screen Daily. Retrieved 3 January 2013.
  14. Maha ElNabawi. "Do-It-Yourself Democracy – The Evolution of Media". 1 March 2012. Community Times. Retrieved 1 December 2012.
  15. Mohamed A. Bary. "Flood of documentaries about the revolution: Pros and Cons". 5 September 2011. Ahram Online. Retrieved 19 December 2012.