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Marina of the Zabbaleen


Marina of the Zabbaleen is a feature documentary that focuses on the struggle of a marginalized Egyptian people to support and sustain a culture of family and belief. The zabbaleen, Cairo’s Christian garbage collectors, have carved out a niche for themselves in a world where they are a distinct and oppressed minority. To make the film, director Engi Wassef – herself a Coptic Christian of Egyptian origin – gained unprecedented entry to the remote, cliff-side world of the zabbaleen. Centering her film on a young girl who aspires against all odds to become a doctor, Wassef deftly explores this hidden garbage-recycling culture and shows that a world without religious liberty is a world where efforts at cultural preservation and economic innovation are always radically compromised. Banned in Egypt, the film has been hailed as a “gorgeous” and “painterly” account of the troubled daily life of an obscure but revealing Middle Eastern people. Official Film Website

“[T]he film never loses its admiration for human resilience and childish imagination.”—Jeannette Catsoulis, The New York Times


Documentary feature
Engi Wassef
Engi Wassef
Rob Hauer
Tom Toro
70 minutes

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  • 3.11.10Marina of the Zabbaleen premieres in the UK! The film will show at the Genesis Cinema in Whitechapel, London, at 7:30pm. Visit the Marina of the Zabbaleen website for more details.
  • 9.16.09Marina of the Zabbaleen screens in Los Angeles, September 16-22, at the Laemmle Grande, with daily screenings at 1:00 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. Tickets are available at the Laemmle Grande box office at 345 S. Figueroa Street in downtown Los Angeles.
  • 9.11.09Marina of the Zabbaleen screens in New York, September 11-17, at the ImaginAsian Theater. For showtimes and tickets, visit http://tickets.torchfilms.com.
  • 5.4.08Marina of the Zabbaleen screens at the Village East Cinemas, New York, NY
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