DER Documentary

El Moulid - Egyptian Religious Festival

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From the Egypt series
by Fadwa El Guindi
color, 38 min, 1990

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Moulid (spoken Arabic meaning “birth”) refers to a public religious festival celebrating the life and legacy of a holy person. The film vividly captures the festive and religious mood of the very 700-year old moulid of the 13th century Muslim Wali, Sayyid Ahmad Al-Badawy, held annually in Tanta, Egypt during cotton harvest.

Using “layering” as a method, this visual ethnography analyzes the moulid’s structure and symbolism, revealing various levels of religious experience – scriptural, mystical, ritual, mythical, interacting with secular traditional life. It culminates in a dramatic procession following the Friday public prayer led by the khalifa (Badawy’s current successor) on horseback, followed by drummers on camels, a Sufi parade, workers representing medieval vocational guilds, and finally circumcised boys in horse carriages. A transmission of vigorous masculinity and potent spirituality is symbolized as a journey from boyhood to manhood embedded in a regenerative cycle from life to death to rebirth.

Film Festivals, Screenings, Awards
Royal Anthropological Institute, International Festival of Ethnographic Film, England, 1990
Margaret Mead Film Festival, New York, 1990
Bilan du film Ethnographique, Musée de l’Homme, Paris, 1990
International Film Festival for Women Directors, American Film Institute, Los Angeles, 1992

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Other films from the Egypt series:
El Sebou' - Egyptian Birth Ritual

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