In the early years of the twentieth century, only foreign studios (German, Italian, and French) operated in Egypt, most of them in Alexandria because of its optimal lighting conditions. It was not until the 1920s that Egyptians made their own films. The first long feature to be financed by Egyptian money was Leila (1927), produced by a woman, Aziza Amir (1901-1952), who also acted in the film, and directed by Estephan Rosti (1891-1964; not a native Egyptian). Mohamad Bayoumi (1894-1963) and Mohamad Karim (first Egyptian film actor), who studied filmmaking in Germany, were early pioneers. Bayoumi was the first Egyptian to produce and shoot a newsreel, Amun, about the return of nationalist Saad Zaghloul Pasha from exile in 1923, and the first Egyptian to shoot and direct a short fiction film, al-Bashkateb (The Head Clerk ). Mohamad Karim, who claimed to have learned filmmaking at ''the university of Metropolis,'' where he spent a year assisting and observing in the production of Fritz Lang's 1927 expressionist classic on the sets of Ufa (Universum Film Aktiengesellschaft), directed his first film, Zaynab, based on the novel by Mohamad Husayn Haykal, in 1930. In 1932, he directed the first Egyptian talking film Awlad al-dhawat (The Children of the Aristocrats), starring theater actors Yussef Wahbi and Amina Rizq; in 1933, he directed his first musical, al-Warda al-bayda'(The White Rose), which showcased the talents of musician and composer Mohamad Abdel Wahab (1901-1991). This was also the first film to solve the problem of compressing long classical Arabic songs (usually 15 to 20 minutes in duration) into six-minute sequences. From then on, Karim was known as Mohamad Abdel Wahab's director, and they made several other films together.
Talaat Harb, the savvy businessman and nationalist financier, founded Bank Misr in the 1920s as well as Studio Misr in 1935, which produced its first talking feature in 1936, Widad, directed by Fritz Kramp after a dispute broke out between original Egyptian director Ahmed Badrakhan and the studio manager, Ahmed Salem. After this, Studio Misr dominated productions in the film industry for the next thirty years. To ensure technical and aesthetic quality, Talaat Harb sent young filmmakers abroad to acquire professional training and recruited European technicians as consultants in Cairo. With the preexisting industries of radio and music recording and with Cairo's position since the nineteenth century as a refuge for artists and musicians fleeing the more constraining conditions of Greater Syria, this unique confluence of talent and technology led to the
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