The Virgin, the Copts and Me

Namir Abdel Messeeh
Egypt, France, Qatar 2012 | 85 Min. | OmU

Namir’s mother is a Coptic Chris­t­ian. She is con­vinced that she can see an appari­tion of the Virgin Mary on a video tape orig­i­nat­ing from her home in Egypt. Her son, who has been raised in a sec­u­lar envi­ron­ment in France, decides to make a film about the phe­nom­e­non and trav­els to Egypt to visit his rel­a­tives. Hoping to under­stand the con­nec­tion between appear­ances of the Virgin to the Copt minor­i­ty and recent events in Egypt­ian his­to­ry he soon dis­cov­ers plenty of obsta­cles. First­ly there are his par­ents who inter­fere in the film and crit­i­cise his ideas; then there’s his French pro­duc­er who wants to change the film every few weeks and final­ly, the inhab­i­tants of his family’s Coptic vil­lage. Des­per­ate, Namir decides to create his own ver­sion of the Virgin Mary’s appear­ance. To realise his plan he will need to enlist the aid of the vil­lagers and his mother; the latter soon joins him in Egypt and proves to be remark­ably capa­ble.

A humor­ous fic­tion­al doc­u­men­tary and family-drama-cum-cul­ture-clash about reli­gion in the dias­po­ra, the art of cinema and the bound­less cre­ativ­i­ty of the film­mak­ers. Making good use of his mother as the film’s won­der­ful main pro­tag­o­nist, this direc­to­r­i­al debut charm­ing­ly and wit­ti­ly expos­es the manip­u­la­tive aspects of doc­u­men­tary film­mak­ing.