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The Crack Magazine

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Cairo Conspiracy

Director: Tarik Saleh

Stars: Tawfeek Barhom, Fares, Mohammed Bakri, Makram J. Khoury, Sherwan Haji

A provincial young man becomes a political pawn in this effective thriller set in an Egyptian University. Adam (Barhom) is the fisherman’s son who earns a scholarship to study at the elite Al-Azhar University in Cairo, the epicentre of the power of Sunni Islam. This is the first time in his life that Adam has left his village and he is initially overwhelmed by his Al-Azhar surroundings which accommodates thousands of students. Shortly after Adam arrives, the chief Imam dies. Security services, who want to ensure their favoured candidate replaces him, call in an experienced officer, the dishevelled Colonel Ibrahim (Fares) to intercede. Ibrahim, needing another insider ‘angel’ after his last was murdered, railroads Adam into spying for him. Under Ibrahim’s instructions, Adam must infiltrate a dangerous group of pro-jihad students. A Swedish-French-Finnish coproduction shot in Turkey (the director would face arrest if he were to set foot in Egypt) with exterior Cairo shots produced by a second unit, Saleh’s picture delivers the requisite thrills, while also providing an illuminating take on various strands of Islam at play and the relationship between the state and religious authorities in contemporary Cairo. Fares is mesmerizing as the resentful, ruthless agent beginning to experience a flicker of conscience in the face of his bosses’ indifference.

David Willoughby

Follow David on Twitter @DWill_Crackfilm