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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, Cairos 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.