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Umm Kulthum: A Voice Like Egypt
Umm Kulthum A Voice Like Egypt
Director: Michal Goldman
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Educational, Documentary
UR     2007     1hr 7min

She had the musicality of Ella Fitzgerald, the public presence of Eleanor Roosevelt, and the audience of Elvis Presley Her name was Umm Kulthum, and she became a powerful symbol, first of the aspirations of her countr...  more »


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Movie Details

Director: Michal Goldman
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Educational, Documentary
Sub-Genres: Pop, International, Educational, History
Studio: AFD
Format: DVD - Color,Full Screen
DVD Release Date: 01/09/2007
Original Release Date: 01/01/1996
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/1996
Release Year: 2007
Run Time: 1hr 7min
Screens: Color,Full Screen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 4
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: Arabic, English

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Movie Reviews

Umm Kulthulm rocks!!!
Louise Baskin | Sequim, WA United States | 07/28/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Raised by a Catholic-Italian mother, and a Russian-Jewish father, both born in the U.S., as was I, I was once the national marketing director for Arab Film Distribution, AFD, Seattle, WA, when the documentary, Umm Kulthum: A Voice Like Egypt, was first released in the U.S. Exclusively distributed by AFD, Yahya Sinno, president of AFD, was responsible for the home division or Internet orders. I was responsibile for the institutional division of AFD, first, watching the films and documentaries in our library, then marketing them, including Umm Kulthum: A Voice Like Egypt, to colleges and universities (and libraries) to professors who used them as their course curriculum, for example, for gender studies or religion. (Yahya and I designed the video/DVD cover of Umm Kulthum: A Voice Like Eqypt.) It was one of dozens of outstanding independent documentaries - and films of all genres -representing the 20 Arab countries, Iran, and recently, the US, that AFD, distributed. Now, there are hundreds of titles. In fact, in 2006, I believe, the highly acclaimed documentary, IRAQ IN FRAGMENTS, garnered 3 Academy Award nominations for best documentary. Written and directed by an American filmmaker, John Langley, who arrived and began shooting in Iraq shortly after Bush declared war in 2003, where he stayed, I believe, for 2 years filming, the producer is Yahya Sinno, president of AFD. Congratulations!

You're probably wondering by now, what the hey - not much - does all that have to do with the review of Umm Kulthum: A Voice Like Egypt? Well, in a very round-a-bout way, smile, the point is that I loaned my coveted copy of Umm Kulthum: A Voice Like Egypt, to a friend, but forgot whom... So, recently, I bought a copy while shopping on for something else, hence, the following review:

Umm Kulthum: A Voice Like Egypt

Well, for starters, Umm Kulthum is without a doubt one of the most amazing, courageous, exciting and incredible singers not only of the Islamic world but world at large! Overall, the documentary is outstanding! Taking holy verses from the Koran and putting them to incredible Middle Eastern music, and singing it in a way nobody else can - many have since tried and miserably failed - Umm Kulthum is a true inspiration, a diva, in the highest, holiest and purest sense! As an Egyptian, Muslim girl, she traveled with her father, a strict Muslim holy man who dressed her as a boy, since it was unheard of for a Muslim girl (or woman) to appear in public singing, which she did to help support her family. Umm Kulthum eventually sang as a girl - and later as a woman - in public, and became the greatest and most beloved and revered singer the Arab and Muslim world has ever known! Treated as royalty by presidents, and beloved by millions and millions worldwide, millions took the streets not only in Cairo, Egypt, but in other Muslim countries as well, to mourn her passing, Umm Kulthum is an icon. This documentary chronicles her entire life, and includes jaw-dropping actual footage of her concert performances of her most popular songs. Today, as seen in the documentary, when adults were randomly stopped on the streets of Cairo, Egypt, and asked if they'd heard of Umm Kulthum, every face immediately lit up and smiled and typically, people sequed into singing a song or humming a refrain from a favorite Umm Kulthum song. Even the children, when ransomly asked if they'd heard of Umm Kulthum, they, too, lit up and smiled and sequed into singing a song or humming a refrain from a favorite song. And, today, Umm Kulthum still lives in the hearts and minds of millions and millions who still cherish her and sing her songs - men, women and children alike. Umm Kulthum is a role model not only for Muslim girls and women, but for women in general, for what she accomplished decades ago, and in a man's world, and in a conservative Muslim (man's) world, at that, with all due respect, is nothing short of remarkable! Although virtually unknown inside the U.S, which is a shame, since I, too, like most, didn't give much thought to films from the Middle East, (quite arrogant, I know), Europe and Japan, yes, the Middle East, no, that is, until I was hired by AFD and watched dozens of films by independent filmmakers from the 20 Arab countries and Iran, and discovered, much to my amazement, shock and utter delight, that some of the best (filmmakers and) films I'd ever seen were stories about and from the Middle East! And, that's coming from a filmmaker trained at - what is considered to be - the finest - American as apple pie - film school in the world, the USC School of Cinema Television! I gotta tell ya, folks, Umm Kulthum: A Voice Like Egypt, is one great documentary! Do yourself a favor... Take off your shades, open your heart and mind, sit back and relax and enjoy a truly remarkable film by an amazing woman filmmaker about an amazing woman singer whose "Voice Like Egypt" is like NO one else you've ever heard before. The one, and ONLY...Umm Kulthum!"
A great documentary
A customer | 11/23/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"in my young age i did not appreciate umm kulthum nor Arabic music in general, but as i grew older, the songs, words and especially the performance of umm kulthum opened my eyes to great works of art and Arabic music. Umm Kulthum transcended time, goverments, generation and geographical boundries. she captured the hearts and minds of people. she is a great example for all man kind of a women who cared about her family, people and country, and presented the best to them. This documentary captures all that, and presents her life in a well rounded and balanced way. I liked the original footage. Omer Sherif is a great narrator. I highly recommend this documentary for people who not only want to know about Umm Kulthum, but also about a bit of the history of egypt. I can really say i enjoyed it."
Egypt's Edith Piaf . . .
Ronald Scheer | Los Angeles | 08/17/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)

"For anyone unfamiliar with Arab and Middle East culture, Umm Kulthum can only be described as a phenomenon like Edith Piaf, a singer from humble origins who captured the hearts and minds of millions with her voice and her song. To Western ears, her style of singing will seem utterly foreign - even unmusical. For me, its appeal comes closest to the appeal of opera, at its most emotional and impassioned. This short, hour-long film does much to bridge the cultural gap between the Arab world and the West, as it recounts the story of the singer's life, her rise to fame and fortune, and her enduring legacy today, more than 30 years after her death in 1975.

There is footage of her performances, showing the rapturous response of her audiences and describing the distinctive style of singing poetic lyrics, typically about love, extending a single song over the length of an hour or more. (A description of one of her regular radio broadcasts is described in Rabih Alameddine's recent novel "The Hakawati.") The film includes scenes from her films and interviews with men and women who knew her, including Nobel Prize winner Naguib Mahfouz, with narration by Omar Sharif and a director's commentary."
E. Manoukian | 07/13/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"An excellent introduction to this legend narrated by the great Omar Sherif
(Dr. Zhivago). The world has witnessed the talents of Mozart, Charlie Chaplin, Albert Einstein, Edith Piaf, Umm Kulthum, Elvis Presley, Charles Aznavour, Fritz Lang, ... . Do you get the idea how great she was and still is so many years after her death?. If you are not YET familiar with Lady Kulthum, to appreciate her singing and her hypnotic effect on her audience, I would recommend you just listen to her song "ENTA OMRI" (which means "you are my life") composed by the legendary Abdel Wahab. [A short segement of this song is on the DVD - a CD or even a DVD of the full concert may be readily purchased on the internet.] Even if you don't understand one word of Arabic, you will still appreciate listeninng to the background music and to her deep voice. If you ask somebody to translate the words you will be hooked. It is interseting to know that each of her songs lasts, on the average, about one hour (!), and that kings have travelled great distances just to attend her concerts and join humbly the general audience. I highly recommended this DVD which, by the way, has a good DVD transfer.