Egypt hopes 'Paranormal' show can resurrect movie glory

The First Art Newspaper on the Net    Established in 1996 Monday, May 27, 2024

Egypt hopes 'Paranormal' show can resurrect movie glory
Paranormal, Netflix's first Egyptian series, marks a shift in the entertainment industry in Egypt, and the wider Arab world.

by Farid Farid

CAIRO (AFP).- With killer mummies, a house of horrors, slick special effects and a melancholic soundtrack, streaming giant Netflix is banking on new blockbuster Egyptian series "Paranormal" achieving worldwide success.

Billed as a mystery and thriller production based on the best-selling young adult fiction novellas of Egyptian author Ahmed Khaled Tawfik, Paranormal was released last week in nine languages to audiences in around 190 countries.

"With such a huge fanbase, it was a logical project for us to come on board," Ahmed Sharkawi, Netflix's head of Arabic and African original content, told AFP.

"We're excited for the fans to see their favourite characters -- monsters and ghosts -- coming to life."

But Paranormal, Netflix's first Egyptian series, also marks a shift in the entertainment industry in Egypt, and the wider Arab world.

Egypt has traditionally been a cultural powerhouse in the region, producing dozens of movies as well as gripping drama and comedy series every year.

But after its golden age in the 1940s to 1960s, critics say the film productions had in recent years lost its touch.

Many hope the growth of online television services could inject new life into the industry -- and bring Egypt's acting to a far larger audience.

Model gaining steam'
"We are beginning to see some filmmakers bypassing state and private structures of financing, and go straight to Netflix," said Marwan Kraidy, an authority on Arab media and dean of Northwestern University in Qatar.

"This model appears to be gaining steam in the Arab world."

The new six-episode series of Paranormal, set in the 1960s, follows the adventures of Refaat Ismail, a haematologist played by Ahmed Amin, who encounters supernatural occurrences.

Along with his trusty sidekick Scottish scientist Maggie Mackillop, played by British-Lebanese actress Razane Jammal, they solve occult mysteries, taking them beyond the splendour of Cairo and deep into the Libyan desert.

"We wanted to create high-quality content without losing the Egyptian spirit of the work," said director Amr Salama, a mainstay of international film festivals with art-house films such as Sheikh Jackson, as well as episodes of Saturday Night Live Arabia.

"We didn't want it to turn out like an American series that's dubbed in Arabic. Even with the special effects and myths and spooky tales, we wanted them to be authentically Egyptian".

On social media, Egyptian reception of Paranormal has been mixed, with many lampooning the show's use of special effects, while others praised the subtle acting of lead actor Amin.

The bespectacled, softly spoken actor, who shot to fame in Egypt with his online comedy sketches, spoke eagerly about showcasing Egyptian talent.

"My starring in Paranormal comes with the challenge of conveying Egyptian drama to an international stage," he told AFP.

"It's a test of seeing whether we can compete and draw audiences beyond the Arab world."

'Bridge the gap'
Kraidy likens Netflix's entry into the Arab market to how the HBO television network in the United States gained traction in households for nuanced stories in landmark shows such as The Sopranos and The Wire.

"Streaming devices have further blurred the boundaries of what 'Egyptian' television drama means," Kraidy said.

Kraidy explained how streaming services have created a savvy middle class of entertainment consumers with sophisticated tastes.

"The major change... is the obliteration of the rhythm of television consumption and the fragmentation of the watching unit from the family to the individual," he added.

"Now everyone watches what they want, when they want... on a bunch of devices."

The critical acclaim of Arab-American actors and storytellers in Hollywood recently has also been a contributing factor.

Egyptian-American actor Rami Malek won an Oscar for best actor last year for his portrayal of Freddie Mercury in "Bohemian Rhapsody".

Comedian Ramy Youssef's Hulu series "Ramy", following the struggles of a young Muslim-American keeping his faith in a hedonistic environment, also won a Golden Globe award this year.

Netflix's subscriber base in the region is just under five million, but the streaming site hopes to double that by 2025 with a slew of Arabic content offerings, including a musical by legendary Egyptian singer Amr Diab later this year.

Breakout actress Jammal hopes Paranormal can expose international viewers to stories beyond typically reductive Hollywood stereotypes of Arab characters.

"I hope it puts a spotlight on the talents that we have here," she said. "I hope that we have more of a chance to bridge the gap between East and West."

© Agence France-Presse

Today's News

November 12, 2020

Israel uncovers King David-era fortress in occupied Golan

Rare Russian pink diamond sells for $27 million

Rockwell painting of Ruby Bridges inspires viral Kamala Harris image

P·P·O·W to open Tribeca space in January 2021 with exhibition by Gerald Lovell

British Museum receives its largest single grant in a decade from Arcadia

Sotheby's announces new Day Sales of Contemporary and Impressionist & Modern Art in New York

Blue Star Contemporary invites reflection and dialogue with new fall/spring exhibitions

Mitchell-Innes & Nash opens its first solo presentation of Ghanaian artist Gideon Appah

Fine Books & Manuscripts at Swann Galleries November 17

Almine Rech now represents Huang Yuxing

Egypt hopes 'Paranormal' show can resurrect movie glory

Tacoma Art Museum hires Director of Development

Irvin Mayfield pleads guilty to conspiracy in New Orleans fraud case

Taymour Grahne Projects opens an online solo show by Tunis-based artist Dora Dalila Cheffi

How Hyperpop, a small Spotify playlist, grew into a big deal

Mudam Luxembourg launches online platform presenting works by 24 artists from 14 countries

Seattle Art Museum opens award-winner Lynne Siefert's solo exhibition

Listening to Beethoven, while walking the dog and dodging cars

Peer to Peer: UK/HK online exhibition features over 30 artists based in UK and Hong Kong

Milan Fashion Week to go ahead with digital catwalks

Techno is music, German court declares

Nye & Company announces highlights included in the Estate Treasures auction

Lyon & Turnbull welcomes three new specialists and launch new dedicated sales in 2021

Dix Noonan Webb appoint Rachel Bailey as Jewellery Specialist

How can Thailand people make money online?

Best Wealth Management Firms to Help Your Financial Plans

Things to Know When Purchasing Cheap Cannabis Seeds

How a Woodworker in California Helped a CBD Brand from Kentucky

Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .


Ignacio Villarreal
(1941 - 2019)
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

sa gaming free credit
Truck Accident Attorneys
Accident Attorneys

Royalville Communications, Inc
Founder's Site. Hommage
to a Mexican poet.

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site Parroquia Natividad del Señor
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful