Saturday, September 18, 2004

Media Monitors Network : "Fahrenheit 9/11" Plays Cairo

by Garay Menicucci

"...Saudi oil wealth does not translate into sufficient political clout in Washington for the Saudis to push the US into war, as far as Egyptian and Arab audiences are concerned. Meanwhile, the influence and strategic vision of another US ally in the Middle East -- Israel -- is nowhere to be seen in "Fahrenheit 9/11."

The cinema was crowded but not full when, at the end of August, Michael Moore's documentary "Fahrenheit 9/11" opened in a theater in Cairo's leafy southern suburb of Maadi. An audience made up of expatriate employees of UN agencies and well-heeled Egyptians snickered at each of Moore's jabs at the ineptitude of George W. Bush and his coterie. Though Egyptian audiences, unlike their American counterparts, are accustomed to graphic pictures of the effects of shrapnel and phosphorus on the human body, women openly sobbed during the clips taken from al-Jazeera television that show Iraqi children who had been shot and burned in the course of the US invasion and occupation. When Neil Young's anthem "Rockin' in the Free World" boomed from the theater sound system as the credits rolled, the audience rose to its feet and applauded.

Since his scathing indictment of the Bush administration won first prize in the Cannes film festival in May, both Moore and his right-wing critics have made much of the reaction to the film abroad. The right-wingers have considered it sufficient to point out that Cannes is in France. Moore has cited warm receptions like the applause in Maadi as evidence that foreigners would like Americans again if they threw Bush out of office. But the fleeting run of "Fahrenheit 9/11" in the Egyptian capital suggests a more ambiguous reception for the film that variously dazzled, disgusted and depressed American movie audiences in late June and July.

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