Private Project

Les Petit Chats

Pre-revolution Egypt was in such dire condition, that people tried to escape it all the time and in any way possible. One particularly popular place of escape was Egyptʼs 60s and 70s, the so-called golden age. And one marketing ploy took full advantage of this “insight.” In the spring of 2010 Egyptʼs premier real estate developer, Palm Hills, invited a select few of Cairoʼs upper crust to the launch of their latest gated community project- and promised them a night to remember. The treat? The reunion of Les Petits Chats, the legendary band of that cherished era. The band that attracted swarms of die-hard hipster fans to their summer concerts and nightclub sessions for two iconic decades was going to perform one last time, for them. What followed is marketing turned magic. Beyond electrifying the crowds and reviving the past, that night reignited a flame within each one of the 6 band-mates, a flame that their present lives and life choices had to answer to.

  • Sherif Nakhla
    Moliereʼs ʻDon Juanʼ, Jean Genetʼs ʻThe Maidsʼ, Christopher Durangʼs ʻBeyond Therapyʼ and ʻDeath and the Maidenʼ
  • Sherif Nakhla
  • Wael Omar
  • Sherif Nakhla
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 19 minutes 55 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    January 1, 2015
  • Production Budget:
    120,863 USD
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
    Arabic, English
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Sherif Nakhla

Sherif Nakhla is an Egyptian, born in Boston and spent his childhood in the US before returning to the Middle East. He graduated with a double major in Theater and Mass Communication from the American University in Cairo. Shortly after graduating Sherif worked for Al-Ahram Weekly writing for the culture section while also producing and directing plays like Moliereʼs ʻDon Juanʼ which marked the opening of the 2003 Theatre Festival at the Bibliotheca in Alexandria, and Eugene Ionescoʼs ʻThe Lessonʼ at El Sawy Cultural Centre. He also directed Jean Genetʼs ʻThe Maidsʼ, Christopher Durangʼs ʻBeyond Therapyʼ and ʻDeath and the Maidenʼ by Ariel Dorfman, most recently, David Mamet's 'Oleanna'. In 2005, Nakhla left the newspaper and had a two year stint in advertising with Tarek Nour Communications before becoming a Sauvé Scholar at McGill University in 2007. His first work after graduation was a short film called 'Miraculum' discussing the taboo topic of a Muslim/Christian teenage love story -an issue deliberately left out of public dialogue. This film went into more than 20 international film festivals, winning three awards including 'Best Sociopolitical film' at the New York Independent International Film Festival. In 2009 Nakhla began work on his first feature documentary 'Les Petits Chats- the revival '. Sherif currently resides in Cairo.

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Director Statement

I make films, and music. I direct theater, and i have a band. And i venture to say that this has been one of those years that everything I do has been at its apex and constantly pushing and pulling me through the day, month, year. And its been 'a hell of a year,' to be having a hell of a year in Egypt. Luckily I am making a film about something i am very familiar with. Specifically, a band; my step-father's old band, Les Petits Chats. The most popular cover band in the history of egypt. The thing is, that I grew up in the middle of all the rock and roll lives they lead, and I found myself often nostalgic about their era. Perhaps it is partially a nostalgia about my own childhood in a way -if i may theorize for a moment- I believe that that is how all art is made. When we find a live connection between a subject and our own experiences and characters, and personal histories, some switch inside is turned on.
Having experienced two different cultures and lifestyles, I've become fascinated by the Western/Arab cultural divide and misunderstandings that potentially arise from such a divide. And this film -in more ways than one- capitalizes on my knowledge and experience living on this divide, and furthers my exploration of it, but in a completely different way than the usual cross-culture film.
Les Petits Chats were an exceptional band. Although they had the talent, backstory, and inter-band dramas that make for the hottest of rock n roll stories, the masses at home also considered them a little too westernized, as they never sang in arabic. In fact, they never had an original song, and a limp attempt to release a record. All they did were covers of Italian, soul, and french crooner and pop music... remaining a band relegated to the elite and creme of Egyptian society. I find myself -with my band- in a similar disposition. This does not bother me -Egypt is a country of 80 million- and not everyone or everything is for mass consumption. I'm not sure it ever bothered Les Petits Chats either... the ones that wanted the populist masses, left the band and went on to play with Om Kolthoum, Abdel Halim, or become movie stars, opera singers, and international grade maestros. So in a sense, i'm making this documentary as an exploration of a particular milieu, in a particular era... but one that shows us how rich the cross section of Egyptian society actually was... and still is. Maybe i'm reaching by making this point, but the truth of why I made this film, is probably lying somewhere between my ability to relate to Les Petits Chats, and my fasciation and nostalgia that Egypt was once a rocking cosmopolitan culture capital with a vibrant and kicking nightlife. Something I barely had time to witness, but grew up hearing about. This rockumentary shows a generation looking to their past, in the hope of not just reliving their glory, but to once again ignite the flame and spirit of the young crowds in a time where hope appears to be scarce. I made this film because i wanted to help them pass the torch... while they show the kids, one last time, how its done.