UAE: Film festival cancels screening of Egyptian animated short

21 December 2016

‘The Unknown Sweet Potato Seller’, a short animated movie by Egyptian filmmaker Ahmed Roshdy, was cancelled on 11 December 2016, just 24 hours before its screening as part of the “Muhr Short“ competition at the 13th Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF), reported Mada Masr on 13 December 2016.

DIFF posted a statement on its official Facebook page announcing they were “unable to screen the movie for unforeseen circumstances” and removed the film completely from its official website. Roshdy said he and his team were trying to find out the real reasons for the cancellation since DIFF administration presented no further explanation.

Suspicions have been raised that the film was cancelled due to political reasons as it touches on a real event of a young sweet potato vendor shot dead by a police officer in Cairo, thus bringing about issues around child labour, police brutality and the killing of unarmed civilians; topics which do not fare well with neither the conservative monarchy of the United Arab Emirates nor the current conservative Egyptian government.

Film inspired by true events
The film tells the story of a young man investigating the death of a 13-year-old sweet potato vendor after he’s haunted by nightmares and visions of the little boy. The boy was shot to death by a police officer and the incident was later claimed to be an accident. The young man’s investigation takes place before the death is declared an accident.

The film is based on the real story of Omar Salah, a 13-year-old sweet potato vendor who was shot dead in Cairo by an Egyptian police officer on 3 February 2013, during the Egyptian revolution.

Allegedly, the police officer had asked the boy for a sweet potato and after the boy asked him to wait for a few minutes the officer threated the to kill the boy. Salah thought the officer was joking, responding “you can’t shoot me”. The officer, who thought his gun was not loaded, fired two rounds at the child.

According to a military spokesperson at the time, Salah was shot by accident while the officer was inspecting his gun. In July 2013, a military court sentenced the officer to three years in prison for the accidental killing of the child and disobeying military orders.

Photo: Official movie Facebook page


» The Huffington Post (Arabic) – 14 December 2016
Dubai festival cancels film about Khaled Abu Naga

» Mada Masr – 13 December 2016
Dubai film festival refuses to screen Egyptian movie ‘The Unknown Sweet Potato Seller’

» Facebook – 11 December 2016
DIFF Facebook statement

» Daily News Egypt – 9 November 2016
‘The unknown sweet potato seller’ to be screened at Dubai International Film Festival

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