Toi, Waguih, 2005

Composed of a series of informal conversations between screenwriter Namir Abdel Messeeh and his reticent, introspective father, Waguih, a reformed Communist and former political prisoner during the early years of the Egyptian Republic, Toi, Waguih evokes Chantal Akerman’s recurring theme of parental silence – a silence of personal history borne of unarticulated trauma (in the case of Akerman’s mother, the Holocaust) that has resulted in their own children’s sense of disconnected culture and uprooted heritage. Unfolding in fractured conversations, extended silence, and quotidian images (most notably, Waguih’s retirement party where his colleagues equally comment on his reticence and fierce intelligence), Toi, Waguih is a poignant, all-too-familiar story of diaspora: a rupture in the continuity of ancestral memory, a first-generation cultural estrangement between traditional and assimilated culture, a silence of collective history.

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