Cairo is one of the few medieval cities in the world that remains relatively intact. LIVING WITH THE PAST is a filmic portrait of Darb al-Ahmar, a neighborhood in the heart of the old city now facing a process of radical change.
Produced by Elizabeth Fernea (producer of the Women in the Middle East Series) this film documents a unique approach to historic preservation, one that combines social and economic development with monument restoration.
LIVING WITH THE PAST follows several restoration projects in progress in Darb al-Ahmar, including: the Great Gate of Bab Zuwayla (1092 A.D.), the Mosque of Emir Qijmas al-Ishaqi (1481 A.D.), the Church of the Virgin (600 A.D.), the Walls of Saladin (11th & 12th centuries A.D.). These projects have been incorporated into a mammoth social, cultural and economic neighborhood improvement scheme.
Across the globe monument preservation often means that people are displaced, and surrounding neighborhoods are demolished. Not so in Cairo, where efforts are underway to not only rescue endangered monuments but to improve the standard of living of the affected communities, in this case the people of Darb al-Ahmar.
"RECOMMENDED... Interviews with architects, construction workers, development officials, and shopkeepers illustrate how the vitality of the neighborhood is being preserved."—Library Journal
2003 Royal Anthropological Institute Film Festival (England)
2002 American Anthropological Association Film Festival
2002 African Literature Association Film Festival
The First World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies (2002)
World Premiere, 2001 Middle East Studies Association Conference
"LIVING WITH THE PAST documents ongoing restoration efforts in [Cairo's historic district of] Darb al-Ahmar ... and does an excellent job of conveying the neighborhood's spirit and the dedication of those involved in the restoration."—Archaeology Magazine