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Creativity and Censorship in Egyptian Filmmaking Term Paper


Introduction

Creativity in the film sector is paramount because consumers constantly seek for palatable yet entertaining content. Convergence of the media through global outreaches increases consumer demand for foreign films in Egypt, and other parts of the world. However, other parts of the world cannot match the media censorship put in place by the Egyptian film industry. The intention of the media laws and other statutes censoring the film industry is to protect the sanctity of religion, sex, and the overly conservative culture of the Egyptian people (Goldschmidt, 2013). It forces filmmakers to exercise high levels of creativity in order to entertain the society and to prevent consumers from opting for foreign films. Copyright laws put in place make it difficult for uncensored films to reach audiences through social media and other vulnerable platforms. The theory under scrutiny concerns the way censorship in the Egyptian film industry enhances the creativity of filmmakers (Swanwick, 2012). Filmmaking is an art of creativity that begins from the mind. It reflects on what happens in the society, and is a powerful tool of change and information dissemination across generations and cultures. The Egyptian government fears that excessive freedom of the film industry could encourage creativity in a different way while encouraging the violation of cultural principles.

Origins of creativity

Creativity is an ancient concept whose inventor equally exercised creativity. In the film industry, people define creativity with the ability to come up with an original script, setting, and concepts that people can easily relate to in a particular environment (Elwakil, 2014).. In the film industry, creativity displays prominence in the production of a play and song writing among other elements that assume least dominant positions. Creativity existed since antiquity, but philosophers link the term to Latin. Arguably, ancient Latin philosophers referred to something new as “creo” to mean create. People can have a naturally creative mind through biological processes. Contrarily, people can learn creativity through schools of art, observation, or nurture (Shafik, 2007). Ability to acquire natural creativity skills genetically presents more advantages to filmmakers in comparison to acquisition of similar skills through education. Philosophers also link creativity to India, Greece, and China who viewed creativity as an element of innovation and not invention. In essence, creativity was a concept borrowed from an existing aspect and improved to appeal to the society (Byrge & Hanson, 2009).

Model of creative processes

Graham Walls developed a model of creativity in the 1920s to explain how the human mind processes information in five different stages. During creativity, humans engage the entire brain in different impulse processes. Walls described the first stage as the preparation mode in which the mind explores different avenues of problem solving (Schochat, 1983). Incubation is the second stage that Walls characterized with internalization of the identified issue. Creativity is a branch of critical thinking, but the only difference is that a person strives to discover something new. In critical thinking, the intention is to solve an existing puzzle. Filmmakers have the ability to review other works of art or come up with a completely new concept. In Egypt, the main areas of interest include religion, politics, and sex since people have little to discuss when it comes to entertainment (Mehrez, 2010). Another area of interest could be science and technology that experience limited censorship. From a filmmaker’s perspective, everything that happens in the society has an explanation that is yet to come or exists. Focusing on the Egyptian population, about 91% are Muslims owing to the Arabic background.

Religion and power

When the Muslim brotherhood took very power after overthrowing the government, extreme media censorship occurred. The intention was to deter filmmakers and other players in the industry from understanding the intentions of the incumbent government. Arguably, separation of power occurred in the 1920s in Egypt to stop religion from interfering with politics. Imitation as an element of Walls’ theory provided an explanation to the filmmakers when the Muslim brotherhood could not govern Egypt (Shafik, 2007). Illumination is the fourth state of the creative mind, which explains how a filmmaker translates abstract information into music, scripts, or other productions. When the brain processes information from the subconscious state to the awareness state, it undergoes enlighten, which is the main purpose of investigation (Boehmer, 2005).

Changing the context of filmmaking to attract a wider audience

A filmmaker in Egypt would want the society to understand why concealment is a policy of dressing, and the significance of reducing sexual content in programming. The Muslim religion remains very strict on the dress code especially for women. When filmmakers create movies, they intend to pass a message that the society will verify in the last stage of the theory. Filmmakers create content for human consumption, and it means that the society has to choose what to watch or listen to, but the government exercises excessive content when the media deals with sex, politics, and religion (Franklin, 2001). A major concern is to leave films for human deconstruction and exposing the country to a possible civil unrest.

Creative personality

The creative personality and the freedom of expression

People have different types of expression, but art is a platform used by most filmmakers to tell their stories in different ways. The social media remains the less gagged form of expression in the country even though it was under government control in 2011. Freedom for artistic expression in Egypt has limitations including non-coverage of atheism, portraying Islam negatively, and supporting homosexuality. The legislature provides little hope for creative personalities in Egypt while constitutional right of expression of 1971 and 2012 provides room for people to exercise such freedoms. A creative personality in Egypt has limitations after the Egyptian government ratified clauses of Article 15 of the ICESC (International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights). Article 19 of the ICCP (International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights) faced a similar fate. When a filmmaker tells a story, he or she approaches the issue under discussion personally because he or she can easily relate to it.

Excellent research skills and the ability to evade excessive publicity within Egypt

Controlling the mind of a filmmaker by overly protecting aspects of religion, sex, and politics gives creative minds the ability to connect with the world from a different angle. Before telling a story, a filmmaker has to ensure that he or she does not lose the intended message, but he or she observes the regulations set by the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE) (Runco, 2007). Filmmakers that ignore the provisions of AFTE face the risk of torture and asylum when the government realizes that the content of documentation violate the regulations that protect storytelling on sex, politics, and religion. A constitutional declaration of 1953 and 1954 reviewed in 1995 posited that audiovisual works that overly exposed the principles of the Abrahamic religions would face legal action (Ramey & Pugh, 2007).

Alternative avenues of reaching out to the audience especially through electronic media

A creative personality must think of other ways of ensuring that the rest of the world understands what happens in Egypt in order to find a long-term solution to the problem. Over the past one decade, filmmakers strived to produce entertaining and informative stories based on religion (Elwakil, 2014). Most of them faced transgression charges since religion takes prominence in the country. As such, the mind of a filmmaker in Egypt mostly involves collection of stories and telling it to the rest of the world incognito. Most of them opt for the less regulated social media while some seek permission from the censorship authority to tell their stories (Mehrez, 2010).

Methods of creativity evaluation

Article 430 of the Egyptian constitution of 1995 establishes that the government can censor audiovisual material that transgresses the law. It includes selling material to external sources that might develop films outside Egypt. Creativity evaluation is diverse beginning with an assessment of the creative personality, his or her ideologies, and the factors that motivate development of a story. The ministry of culture uses the regulations of the penal code to determine the type of content that should reach the target audience. The ministry received the power from the prime minister’s decree article 162 of 1992 (Goldschmidt, 2013). While the ministry creates room for renting material, distribution, and sale of films, the filmmakers have no freedom of expression. Through the penal code, the ministry investigates cases of libel or defamation through films in order to press charges. Article 35 of the Egyptian constitution of 1976 initiated censorship of the film industry through theatres, cinemas, TV, music, and scripts. The intention is to create a society that conforms to the conservative Islamic teachings, as the censorship membership board established in the country. Sharia Law opposes films that expose sexual content, protests, and mosques (Boehmer, 2005). When Ahmad Abdulla, an Egyptian filmmaker underwent trial for filming the movie “Accommodation” at the Sayyeda Nafeesa Mosque, the rest of Egypt knew the ministry of Religious Endowment would introduce a strict penalty on the victim. Sometimes, the filmmakers have to acquire permits from the censorship authority in order to enjoy the short-lived privileges of shooting films in restricted areas (Khouri, 2010).

Conclusion

The Egyptian filmmaker has to take each opportunity presented to tell his or her story. Besides creativity in production, the filmmaker has to seek alternative ad safe means of storytelling. The challenges and limitations existing to curtail the freedom of speech in Egypt might be the rebirth of a new breed of filmmakers in Egypt. Together with AFTA, the FREEMUSE (World Forum on Music and Censorship) of Copenhagen will assist the filmmakers to continue producing analogies and movie series even in the face of the worst media censorship globally.

References

Boehmer, E. (2005). Colonial & postcolonial literature (2nd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University.

Byrge, C. & Hanson, S. (2009). The creative platform: A new paradigm for teaching creativity. Problems of Education in the 21st Century, 18(1), 33–50.

Elwakil, M. (2014, June 6). Filmmakers, performers and musicians in Egypt tread a fine line. Web.

Franklin, D. (2001). The professor as censor: Creative limitation and film production pedagogy. Journal of Film and Video, 53(1), 25-39.

Goldschmidt, A. (2013). Historical Dictionary of Egypt. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press.

Khouri, M. (2010). Arab national project in Youssef Chahine’s cinema. Cairo: American University in Cairo Press.

Mehrez, S. (2010). Egypt’s culture wars: Politics and practice. Cairo: American University. in Cairo Press.

Ramey, L. T., & Pugh, T. (2007). Race, class, and gender in “medieval” cinema. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Runco, M. A. (2007). Creativity: Theories and themes: research, development, and practice. Amsterdam: Elsevier Academic Press.

Schochat, E. (1983). Egypt: Cinema and Revolution. Critical Arts, 2(4), 22-32.

Shafik, V. (2007). Arab cinema: History and cultural identity. Cairo: American University in Cairo Press.

Swanwick, K. (2012). Music education: Major themes in education. New York: Routledge.

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IvyPanda. (2020, June 18). Creativity and Censorship in Egyptian Filmmaking. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/creativity-and-censorship-in-egyptian-filmmaking/

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"Creativity and Censorship in Egyptian Filmmaking." IvyPanda, 18 June 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/creativity-and-censorship-in-egyptian-filmmaking/.

1. IvyPanda. "Creativity and Censorship in Egyptian Filmmaking." June 18, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/creativity-and-censorship-in-egyptian-filmmaking/.


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IvyPanda. "Creativity and Censorship in Egyptian Filmmaking." June 18, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/creativity-and-censorship-in-egyptian-filmmaking/.

References

IvyPanda. 2020. "Creativity and Censorship in Egyptian Filmmaking." June 18, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/creativity-and-censorship-in-egyptian-filmmaking/.

References

IvyPanda. (2020) 'Creativity and Censorship in Egyptian Filmmaking'. 18 June.

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