< Back to Films

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

Get Involved

Many films are available for private screenings. For more information, email info@thempi.org.


  • 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
View full event archive for Marina of the Zabbaleen