The Pigs of Cairo
Salem, a twenty-five-year-old Copt, joins his family, who have recently moved to the ragpickers' district of Cairo. There, he meets his father, a quiet man who seems to miss village life, and his sister, who is married to an entrepreneur who specialises in waste recycling. Salem is given a pig farm—the animals eat organic waste, which makes it easier for his brother-in-law to sort the recyclables. The whole neighbourhood runs on this system, which has been in place for twenty years. When swine flu breaks out worldwide, despite the fact there are no confirmed cases in Egypt, the country is nevertheless gripped by psychosis. The ragpickers, given they are in contact with pigs, are singled out and stigmatised. Under pressure from Islamists, the government passes a law requiring the slaughter of all swine in Egypt. Faced with what he considers to be an injustice, Salem does what he must to save his pigs and the dignity of his community.
Les Films du Tambour (France)
Known as the “garbage district,” the ragpickers' quarter of Cairo is a red-brick slum where the city's waste is piled up to be sorted and sold. With a large Coptic population, it is home to the largest church in the Middle East—and pig farms. I want to deal with the “pig crisis” from the point of view of Salem and this neighbourhood, to reveal the internal dynamics of the Coptic community, which has to date so seldom been filmed. I want to develop an intimate thriller, driven by the dilemma of my main character: ought he go along with the decision of his community and sacrifice his pigs, or choose another path. For, among his people—as in the Middle East in general—there is little room for the individual, as personal dynamics are always overshadowed by the group. Eventually, Salem will free himself and regain his individuality. But at what cost?
In 2011, Rani Massalha directed the short film Elvis de Nazareth, which won the Unifrance Jury Prize at the Festival de Cannes the following year. In 2013, he directed Girafada, his first feature-length film, featuring Saleh Bakri, Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre and Roschdy Zem. The film had its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, was produced by MACT Productions, sold internationally by Pyramide, and acquired by Netflix in 2020. He is currently developing his second feature, The Pigs of Cairo at Films du Tambour, the production company he launched in 2014 with Marie Legrand.
Marie Legrand started the Paris-based production company Les Films du Tambour in 2014. Her credits as a producer include Arab and Tarzan Nasser’s Dégradé, which was selected for the Semaine de la Critique at the Festival de Cannes in 2015; Çagla Zencirci and Guillaume Giovanetti’s Sibel (2018); Atiq Rahimi's Our Lady of the Nile, which had its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2019 and won the Crystal Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2020. The Nasser Brothers’ Gaza mon amour, the most recent Films du Tambour production of, had its premiere at the Venice International Film Festival in 2020 and was released worldwide in 2021.
€1 800 000
First quarter 2023, Cairo, Egypt
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