Posted by Shadi Matar on July 01, 2015 in Blog

YouTube has started  a new channel called “Aflam” featuring classic Egyptian films. Aflam, which means films in Arabic, launched on April 2nd and has already amassed 40,625 subscribers and over 1500 films. The channel is now bridging the gap between conventional media and classical Egyptian cinema for Arab Americans and other interested audiences

Google Arabia started the channel and has partnered with companies such as, “Mazzika,” “Masr Online,” “3alshasha,” and “Misr International Films,” to compile all these films together in one place. These companies host the films on their individual YouTube channels while Aflam sorts them by genre, actors and actresses, and release date. Working in coordination with these partners Aflam has now compiled a vast online library of Egyptian films that date back nearly 100 years.

Google Arabia stated that they founded the channel in recognition of the “importance and richness of [the] artistic heritage” portrayed in the films they are featuring. Many of the films on the channel date back from early cinema but also recent feature films are also included.  

These films not only serve as a cinematic view on Egypt over the last century but are also reflective of Egyptian cultural development as well. Through the lens of American film and cinema, a majority of American audiences have only seen the Arab world through what is perhaps an imperfect lens, and these films offer an alternative narrative. Viewers can now see the bustling streets of Cairo in the 1950’s as opposed to a stereotypical dessert or harem scene featured in some American films in the same era.

For Arab Americans, young and old, this channel also serves as a great device to view many gems of Egyptian cinema that were only available to be seen through costly satellite TV packages. For the new generation Aflam offers those who were not raised with these classic films a chance to experience films that their parents or even grandparents might have once enjoyed.

Many Arab Americans who immigrated to this country regard Egyptian cinema as the pinnacle of film production in the Middle East. These films have always been a window into many of the social contexts of the Arab world. Aflam offers a way, for anyone interested in Egyptian cinema, to view some of the greatest Egyptian cinema from the last century.