If you think watching the movie was nerve-wracking, try finding out how it was filmed. The team behind the critically lauded film give us some exclusive insights into its making...
Eshtebak, or Clash, the Egyptian movie that graced the Cannes Film Festival and is garnering critical acclaim worldwide as one Egypt's more recent cinematic gems has also been stirring up some serious controversy. With rumours swirling that the movie will be pulled out only a couple of days after its release in Egyptian theatres - days after Hollywood giant Tom Hanks wrote to producer Mohamed Diab praising the stunning production - the movie has been deservedly picking up steam.
The movie, which perfectly articulates the state of political and social mayhem that Egypt was plunged into after Morsi's ouster, highlights in the most neutral way possible the nuanced struggles and collisions happening between the different parties that make up the Egyptian population. Whether it’s the Muslim Brotherhood against the secularists or both against the government or any of those against politically unorganised and ideology-free Egyptians, the moments of collision in Egyptians and their ideologies have provided for the movie an awe-inspiring platform for raw cinematic genius.
The movie - set entirely in an 8-meter-squared van - had the entire cast and crew facing considerable challenges and dangers on their way to placing this masterpiece on the international table. Here are only some of those crazy difficulties the crew underwent in the making of the movie.
8 Meter Van
The filming of the entire movie did actually take place in a mere 8-meter-squared van with the 25 actors who play the main roles in the film all crammed in the vehicle.
Real Panic Attacks
Some of Eshtebak actors went through real panic attacks during the shooting of the movie, especially during its last week - not to mention that on a daily basis, at least one of the actors had to leave the van for a while to relieve themselves of the feeling of suffocation that many faced during the filming process. Some actors even had to counsel psychiatrists for the same reasons. “The matter of how long we could survive in the back of a police van started to affect us psychologically, we became convinced that it was really one and that we were entrapped in it. It made the performance feel real because you can only see the world through barred windows," actor Amr El Qady said in an interview with CairoScene.
At some points, considerable numbers of Egyptian policemen directly interfered in the shooting of the movie in the Al Marioteya area and there were numerous times that passersbys in the area thought there was a real clash between police and civilians and gathered in crowds around the scene.
Alexa Mini Camera
A lightweight compact Alexa Mini Camera was used for the entire shooting of the movie due to the limited space of the platform. It is worth mentioning that this is the first time this camera has been used in the shooting of an Egyptian movie.
During one of the scenes showing the breaking up of riots using a fire hose, the actors were actually hosed down by the water which had become very hot due to the burning weather of Egyptian summer.
Eshtebak took four weeks to shoot, which we can safely assume were four weeks of hell for the actors who worked for about 12 hours every single day throughout this period. That, paired with the crazy heat of summer, and the crammed van give a clue about how excruciating it must have been for the actors.
The Altered Minivan
The van in which the movie takes place was originally a regular vehicle that was altered to look like the vans used by the Egyptian police.
Eshtebak may not be everyone’s cup of tea considering its plot, weight, meaning, and piercing visuals but the movie’s superb acting, direction, and production make it impossible to dismiss in any way.