NEWS/"Excuse My French" Box Office Success
After its first week launch in movie theatres in Egypt, Amr Salama’s new film “Excuse My French” (Lamo Akhza) exceeded a profit of over one million Egyptian pounds.
The film tackles intolerance and prejudice in the Egyptian society, specifically between Christians and Muslims through a comic approach. The film is about a Christian boy, named Hany, played by a 13-year-old actor and football player Ahmed Dash, who is moved from an international school to a public school after his father passes away. Hany now faces the challenge of adapting to life in public schools and mingling with kids from a lower social class. As a newcomer, his schoolmates bully Hany. To make life easier for himself, Hany decides to conceal his religion; his ambiguous name makes it possible for him to do so. After a year of pretending to be a Muslim, Hany’s secret gets disclosed. To his surprise, Hany found that his colleagues and teachers treat him nicely after knowing he is Christian; in order not to cause a sectarian tension in the school.
Salama describes the film as, “The most personable film I will ever make.” Although Salama is not Christian himself, he says ninety percent of the film is based on experiences that he personally encountered. Amr Salama was also put in a public school after returning to Egypt from Saudi Arabia. Salama also had his share in struggling: "I was the pampered kid who went to school with a Nutella sandwich and a green apple," he says. "I had a computer at home."
The film stars actor and musician Hany Adel, who also acted in Salama’s previous film “Asmaa,” along with Syrian actress Kinda Alloush were both the main character's parents. Salama wrote the film during Mubarak’s time to make fun at Mubarak government’s propaganda about Egypt’s Christian-Muslim tolerant relationship. The film went through a fierce battle with the Egyptian censorship until it finally saw the light this year.
When Salama first submitted the script to censors in 2009, it was rejected. “No sectarianism in Egypt” was the reason given, The Cairo Post reported. After the January 25th revolution in 2011, Salama resubmitted the film. “I had hopes that after the revolution things would change,” he said, “but it was turned down again.”
In 2012, Salama received a Ministry of Culture production grant. After a number of debates, Salama was finally given the green light to make the film “but only after making slight changes,” Salama told The Cairo Post. He said he agreed only so that he would have the freedom to shoot the film, but he had put in mind that he would shoot it the way he wanted it “and take on a new battle with the censors later.” Since it was released in Egypt’s movie theatres, the film has received positive feedback by film critics and the audience.
By Dina Shehata
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