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Last Updated: Wednesday, 9 July, 2003, 11:14 GMT 12:14 UK
Egyptian film breaks new ground
Cairo street scene
Egypt is a largely Muslim country
An Egyptian film featuring kissing scenes and frank sexual discussion is proving popular there, despite is reputation for conservative cinema.

People have been flocking to see Sahar al Layali (Night Out), which tackles issues such as marital problems and adultery.

Egyptian films have generally been cautious in style over the last few years, tending to avoid any reference to sex and including no kissing scenes.

"The film is very bold in its discussion of problems which were not raised so clearly in the Egyptian cinema in recent years," said Cairo film critic Ola Shafei.

The film follows the lives of four upper-middle class couples who work through their relationship problems and ultimately stay together.

"I tried to raise debate about the problems dealt with in the film, but I did not want to provide solutions," director Hani Khalifa told the AFP news agency about his debut effort.

One woman in the film wants a divorce because her husband fails to satisfy her sexually and another walks in on her husband having sex with his lover.

Playing safe

A member of the public who saw the film was impressed by its boldness.

"It's the first time I have seen a film which talks about the problems of my generation," said Salim, a man in his 30s.

However, the film reverts to a traditional happy ending with all the women deciding to stay with their husbands.

"Even if the end of the movie is a little conservative, since one woman forgives her adulterous husband and the other abandons the idea of divorce, I still think it is a good film," said Ola Shafei.

Egyptian television also usually avoids showing displays of public affection but that could soon change with a new series commissioned based on Baywatch.

The country is to get its own version of the beach-based drama, complete with sun, sea and scantily-clad lifeguards.

Although Egypt is a largely Muslim country where many women wear veils, producer Yousef Mansour is searching for a cast to act in swimsuits.

"There won't be any sex - just tender kissing and people in love," said Mansour.

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