Atteyat Al Abnoudi: Rhythm of life (Iqa’ al-haya)

Rhythm of life (Iqa’ al-haya), Atteyat Al Abnoudi, 58’,  Egypt / BRD, ZDF 27.12.1988, OV with English subtitles

Rhythm of Life, the ZDF film text says, “shows the dignity manual work can have: shaping clay bricks, firing pots, separating the grain from the chaff, pressing oil under huge millstones, weaving on simple, homemade looms”. But Egyptian documentarian AI Abnoudy avoids this penchant for nostalgia by showing that the work is done primarily by women and old men, while the young are striving to move to the cities or abroad. And when a potter claims that water from an earthenware jug tastes better than from chilled plastic bottles, it raises pertinent questions: Has the West delivered on its promises of progress and a better life to the people of the global South, especially women?

Atteyat Al Abnoudi (1939–2018) was a well-known Egyptian lawyer and filmmaker, who made a number of documentaries on social and feminist themes and with her style left her mark on Egyptian documentary filmmaking. Her films have been shown in Egypt and abroad and have won awards. For Das kleine Fernsehspiel, she made Rhythm of Life (1988). In 2021, Arsenal cinema dedicated a retrospective to her.