Shall I Compare You To A Summer's Day? ***
Starring: Donia Massoud, Ahmed El Gendy, Salim Mrad
Director: Mohammad Shawky Hassan
Scheherazade, tells a new story; that of a young man and his new male lover. Told through vivid montage, narration and song, the romantic history of the filmmaker - taken from his own “love diaries” - are played out on screen in a dreamy reimagining of ‘The Arabian Nights’. And the result is a Queer Arabic celebration of sex, sensuality and polyamory.
A film without any real narrative, this is a playful cinematic fantasy with a director cutting his teeth on a subject he knows well: his own sex life. Though its subject is entirely progressive, it’s actually played out through traditional story-telling and visual techniques that juxtapose nicely as the bard recounts each tale as though it is scribed in the ancient text. Fantastic creatures merge into the story, with animation illustrating the tales. Nude men in videoed still images demonstrate intimacy, while monologues to camera provide light and shade.
This is, without doubt, a filmic experiment but with a run-time just short enough, its self-indulgences don’t get stale. With an English title lifted from Shakespeare (clearly to give it the same weight as Scheherazade gives to the Arabic World), this is a film that pitches high; its artistic pretensions aimed toward - and achieving - whimsical gravitas. Thrusting a Queer narrative deep into the midst of the Arabic establishment, this is both unique and provocative. But you might just wish for a story arc eventually.
UK Release: Out now on DVD and VOD, released by TLA Releasing