Cape Town – Outcry over a new film exploring same-sex relationships in both the historical and contemporary Middle East is sparking outcry in Egypt.
According to Queerty.com, “Bashtaalak Sa’at” (Shall I Compare You to a Summer’s Day?) screened at the Berlin Film Festival earlier this month, and has caused quite a stir in the North African country.
Written and directed by Egyptian-born Mohammad Shawky Hassan, it delves into gay relationships in Arab society, looking at a number of folk tales through the queer lens.
The 66-minute movie, recently screened at the 72nd Berlin Film Festival has not yet been shown in Egypt, but the outcry there has nonetheless been huge, reported the Arab Weekly.
In Mohammad Shawky Hassan’s metafictional essay, a female narrator who wishes to tell the story of a love between two men encounters a polyamorous chorus of lovers, and this oft-told tale is multiplied.
In Club Scheherazade, there is no protagonist, and every song has various versions. Heteronormative dramaturgy is challenged polyphonically and across a range of media: lovers ask each other about threesomes, Grindr contacts and past dates, the Berlin International Film Festival describes the film.
According to Queerty, Egypt punishes homosexual behaviour under public decency laws. Those convicted of infractions are often given harsh sentences by Egyptian courts.
The nation began a harsh crackdown on LGBTQIA+ people following a 2017 incident where a group of young people waved pride flags at a concert in Cairo. The incident led to the arrest of 84 people, many of whom were subjected to rectal exams as part of their interrogations, said reports.
In a perplexing move earlier this year, Egypt told the United Nations Human Rights Council that queer people do not exist, saying the nation does not recognise the terms mentioned in this recommendation, reports said.