This is the story of one of the greatest operas ever written, and the opera house in Cairo in which it premiered. When the famous Khedivial Opera House in Cairo was completely destroyed by fire in 1971, it was replaced by a three storey parking garage. The square however maintained its original name, Opera Square (Meidan El Opera).
“Nothing Escapes My Eyes tells a very universal story that unfolds without words, simple and clear: It is about the silent transformation of a place and a human being, both subjected to the melancholy of conforming.” (David Krippendorff, director)
The film “Nothing Escapes My Eyes” by David Krippendorff is a visual and audio experience that, through image and music only, connects two historical events: the opera Aida that premiered in that building in 1871, and its destruction 100 years later. Just as the identity of the city of Cairo underwent a transformation, the character of Aida is also depicted as a person trying to transform her identity in the attempt to conform to the dominating culture. Thus, this “urban schizophrenia” of a city that had its identity partially replaced, is connected with the figure of Aida.
The film: Nothing Escapes My Eyes
After several years of video making using found footage, Nothing Escapes My Eyes is the first movie directed by David Krippendorff (who is also one of our wallpaper artists!), in which he creates his own cinematographic images.
In an 8 minute sequence, accompanied by Verdi’s music, the film starts in an undefined place and ends with a large panoramic image. We see a woman in ancient Egyptian costume sitting in front of a dressing room mirror. During her actions the camera is slowly receding and gradually revealing to the audience the actual setting: The woman in front of the wardrobe mirror is on a parking deck – in the middle of a parking garage, at the Opera Square in Cairo.
David Krippendorff about Nothing Escapes My Eyes
“At eight I discovered the Egyptian culture and became obsessed: My favourite past time was drawing in the Egyptian style, studying books on ancient Egypt and collecting anything I could that was related to this ancient culture. I discovered Verdi after having left Italy after several years, listening to his music was a way of reconnecting to the country of my childhood. Nothing Escapes My Eyes is therefore such a natural idea for me, as it brings together my three main passions: movies, music and my childhood obsession ancient Egypt.”
Through music and images, parallels are being expressed between the story of the opera and the history of its location, between past and present, between questions of identity and cultural heritage versus the pressures to conform.
Nothing Escapes My Eyes depicts a woman undergoing a fundamental transformation. To represent this character in a film that has no spoken dialogue, it is necessary to have an actress with outstanding strength, expressiveness and charisma.
We are proud to announce that for the main role we have the renowned actress Hiam Abbass. Well-known for her amazing performances in Lemon Tree, The Syrian Bride, The Visitor, and numerous other international films. In Lemon Tree, although the lead, she hardly talks, yet the strength of her performance is powerful and expressive. It was this performance that inspired the director, and it was his vision from the start to have her in his film. Hiam Abbass loves the project and has agreed to be part of it!
Our score: Muti and Ari Benjamin Meyers
Krippendorff’s first choice was the Muti recording with Montserrat Caballé. There was no question of compromising on this as the music plays such an important part. Since there is no spoken dialogue, the music serves as the narrative element of the film. Here as well we have been very lucky: EMI has given us the permission to use the excerpt from the Muti recording that is going to be the central score of the film. Adding to this, we are very glad to be collaborating with Ari Benjamin Meyers.
So, with the main actress and score secured, we are basically ready to go!
How we will produce the film and why we need your support NOW
The film shooting is scheduled for spring / summer 2013 in Cairo and Hamburg. 2013 is Verdi’s 200th anniversary, so we would really like to have it ready as soon as possible to still be able to place it within cultural events dedicated to this celebration. It’s a co production between a team of producers from Berlin, Hamburg and Cairo, combining expertise in film and music production, facilities in post production and knowledge of local production circumstances both in Egypt and Germany. We have been working so intensely and for so long on this project that we can’t wait to have the final green light for the project – which is still depending on the financing. Go to Kickstarter to find out more and support the project.
Image from the “Travelers in the Middle East Archive” (TIMEA) where it is available at the following Uniform Resource Identifier: 7024.
Original source: Original postcard: “Opera House Square, Cairo.” (Raphael Tuck & Sons). 5.5″x 3.5″. From the collection of Dr. Paula Sanders, Rice University.