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Coup in Celluloid, A: The Last Days of the Egyptian Monarchy 1x59

Oil and Sand was an extravagant film made by members of the Egyptian royal family and a few friends and relatives in 1952 about a coup d’état, shot just weeks before the royals were overthrown in a real coup. The completed Technicolor film was destroyed by the director in fear that it would be used as propaganda against the ousted monarchy. Following Mahmoud Sabit, the man who found the original 8mm reels and who is himself a relation of the late king of Egypt, this documentary focuses on the reconstruction of the film’s story, its array of real life players, and the political circumstances surrounding the shoot. This uncanny marriage of fiction and reality reveals that the original film not only managed to unwittingly predict the fate of the King, but also foresaw the next 60 years of relations between Egypt and the West.

“Intelligent nostalgia is rarer than intelligent comedy, yet Wael Omar and Philippe Dib beautifully succeed in resurrecting the teetering glamour of Egypt’s late monarchy… Their subject couldn’t be more perfect: Urbane Mahmoud Sabit, a distant cousin of King Farouk, discovered outtakes of an amateur film his parents shot with society friends in the heady days before the 1952 revolution. The kind of docu that sends auds into their imaginations as well as their history books, [A Coup in Celluloid] will be sought out by nonfiction sidebars, and is ideal for smallscreen rotation.”—Variety