Among the great male stars of the classic movies are Rushdy Abaza (1926-1980), Shukri Sarhan (1925-1997), and Omar Sharif (born 1932), who shot to worldwide fame when he played the main role in the Hollywood production Dr. Zhivago. Female stars include Faten Hamama (born 1931), Nadia Lotfi (born 1938), and, doubtless the most famous, Soad Hosny (1943-2001).
The quality of Egyptian films declined after the 1970s. In the 1970s, Egyptian cinema began to produce films specifically for the Gulf, offering a mixture of sex, drugs, and violence. The 1980s witnessed the rise of movies revolving around one star, mainly the actresses Nabila Ebeid (born 1945) and Nadia al-Gondi (born 1950) and the actor Adel Imam (born 1940), who is considered today the most famous Egyptian actor. Other movie stars include Ahmed Zaki (1949-2005), Mahmoud Abdel Aziz (born 1946), and Yousra (born 1955).
By the late 1990s, a new wave of young Egyptian actors and actresses dominated the screen, producing what are known as shababi (youth) movies. Most of them were mediocre comedies. The phenomenon of ‘contractor movies’, which were meant only to fill the cinemas with cheap and uncomplicated entertainment, did little to help. If fact, comedy and slapstick slowly became staples of the Egyptian cinema.
Since the revolution, Egyptian cinema has collapsed completely, due on the one hand, to the economic situation – with poverty on the rise, buying a cinema ticket has become difficult – and on the other hand, to the old formula of mindless comedy, which is less and less appealing to people who expected the Egyptian cinema industry to be more involved in current issues, and most films still star the same celebrities, some of whom gained bad reputations for their support of Mubarak.
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