In south-west of Cairo reality and imagination meet
These are part of the new cities stretching out in a radius from the congested capital of Cairo, where people are seeking a modern urban and international lifestyle.
While these cities are real, in the MPC reality blurs with imagination as it is not only host to live radio and TV actuality shows but has its own backlot with entire streets and fake palaces for film production.
Best known for Western movie audiences may be Universal Studios and Warner Bros, but this film park can also be visited.
On the day we went, in the area known as Garden City, filming of a popular local TV drama, The Grand House, was stopped so we could be introduced to the stars, actress Sawsan Badr, actress and dancer Lucy and actor Magdy Kamel. We were a group of African media visiting the MPC as part of a tour of Egypt as guests of the Egyptian Agency of Partnership for Development (EAPD).
The large-scale MPC is the biggest information and media complex in Egypt with 32 locations connected to a central hub, including indoor studios and filming locations all linked to the Egyptian satellite, “NileSat”.
Aside from Garden City, other locations include a pharaonic city, Islamic village, Bedouin area, and Alexandria district, and the palaces and houses can be furnished according to the period and other needs of the director. In addition there is “Magic Land” used as an educational facility and for the filming of children’s programmes.
In total, the campus, which was inaugurated in 1996, provides a centralised location for a range of media services, from technical to live TV broadcast from 14 studios, with radio accommodated nearby.
In the sound control room, sound engineer Shveif Abdel Gayed enthusiastically displays the latest technology and explains the specialised equipment for recording music and dubbing.
A large adjacent theatre hall is big enough for operatic recordings, and the studio he said boasts the “clearest voice quality” of any in the region, and some of the most famous singers in the Middle East had recorded there. Gayed stressed that the studio was open to all artists, and he would welcome South Africans too. The Dolby Atmos studio is where Egyptian and foreign films are taken for sound effects and dubbing, and the team there has worked on about 100 projects, including Egyptian, Middle Eastern, French and Italian - and even the Arabic version of Disney films. At the MPC Cinematic Restoration Centre, valuable old film is processed and preserved for historic purposes, and during the visit we were shown before-and-after film from the time of former Egyptian president Abdel Nasser’s death in 1970.