Sunday, June 29, 2008

Inter-Cultural & Inter-Religious Diversity in Egyptian Society

An Egyptian independent filmmaker, named Nadia kamel, produced an award-winning documentary called "Salata Baladi" which literally means "Native Salad" or "Popular Salad," pointing out the mixing that went on in the Egyptian society.

The film depicts the intertwined history of an Egyptian family dating back several generations.

Even though it is not a common scene in Egypt, this story is definitely not unusual. It represents the diversity that can be seen in many Egyptian families and it shows how the Egyptian society, throughout history, has intermingled with several cultures, religions and civilizations.

Thus far, the film continues to win many international and national awards. Among which was its recent recognition by the Fourteenth National Egyptian Cinema Festival this June.

The 23rd Munich International Documentary Film Festival introduced the film as follows:

Egyptian director Nadia Kamel's complex family history transcends all boundaries ... a web of cultures and religions – a great, cosmopolitan salad!
Egypt, Switzerland, France 2007 - Director: Nadia Kamel - Original language: Arabic - Subtitles: English

A web of cultures and religions in one family – a great, cosmopolitan salata!

Egyptian director Nadia Kamel's heritage is a complex blend of religions and cultures. Her mother is a half Jewish, half Italian Christian who converted to Islam when she married Nadia's half Turkish, half Ukrainian father. Prompted by the realisation that her ten-year-old nephew was growing up in a society where talk of 'culture clashes' was all too common, she decided to let her mother speak and explore their family history. "The original inspiration for this film was simple enough: a love for my family's stories and a wish to share them. It was a story telling project." But, as she worked on the project, Kamel realised a need for further work to challenge the boundaries between cultures, religions and nationalities that are used to divide us. So she travelled, along with her mother and nephew to Israel and Italy confronting fears and prejudices along the way. "And so my story telling film became a witness to a new story still in the making - a story about my family's efforts to once more climb the wall that unjustly insists on separating our principles from our humanity." [more here....]

The film's trailer is posted here:

This film also shows that the question of "identity" in Egypt is quite a complex one. Recently we have been watching the issue of identity cards and other official documents for the Baha'is of Egypt. The authorities appear to be bent on compartmentalizing the Egyptian population into very restrictive religious identities.

If one, however, examines the realities of several segments of the Egyptian society, it becomes clear, very quickly, that these identities are not what they appear on the surface, or they are not as "pure" as what we are being forced to believe. After all we know what it was like when the Third Reich promoted such rigid, purist, ethnic and racial identities.


  1. i saw this film in Cairo . it is very soft & sympathatic film & i wrote my openion in my blog here about the film & some photos:

  2. Could you please explain to the readers how they can purchase a DVD copy of the film?

  3. this is site of nadia kamel & in this article she disscussed why she cannot pay the film now

  4. this is answer from nadia kamel:
    the site where people could buy the film in a few months is
    you can sign up for their newsletter to get informed when they release
    the film (autumn/winter catalogue)..
    they are distributors for north america..
    there will be a distributor in india too soon, their website is
    you could also write them to inquire about date of release and
    logistics for buying.


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