The Egyptian Beshay was brought to the leper colony as a child, where he still lives as an adult man in his fifties (his age is difficult to estimate, partly due to the consequences of his illness). He is married there and leads a reasonably happy life. But when his wife – who was already ill – dies and his mother-in-law visits him – whom he has never seen before – something starts to gnaw at him. If his wife still has family, would his family still be alive? Beshay quickly takes the bull by the horns and decides – against all the good advice of a bunch of friends – to go in search of his family with his cart and donkey. And that for someone who has never independently set foot outside the colony … He is accompanied by the orphan boy Obama, initially as a stowaway, later as an indispensable friend.
“Yomeddine” is Arabic for “day of judgment” and this means that the day will come when everyone will be seen as equal, judged by the deeds they have done, not what they look like. Beshay is an optimistic character, but even a positive person like Beshay is touched by the way in which he is viewed and treated by outsiders. The mere fact that he is in a colony with other leprosy sufferers is of course anchored in his whole being: how can he feel part of Egyptian society now, in this micro-economy, in which he earns money by roaming the local rubbish dump. to scavenge and sell things of value? The ignorance of people is one thing – women washing in a river – fearful of contamination take their child out of the water – while Beshay has not been contagious for years – but the cruelty of others, a nurse in a hospital or the police, is a second.
The two non-professional actors (Rady Gamal as Beshay and Ahmed Abdelhafiz as Obama) are not inferior to each other in purity and charisma and lift this disarming feature debut of the Egyptian-Austrian A.B. Shawky to the next level. The friendship between the two is moving and works both ways: they cannot live without each other and when the inevitable divorce comes, it is as heartbreaking as it is thrilling.
Shawky introduces us to different sides of Egyptian society, with a surprise on every street corner. “Yomeddine” is a loving, humorous and human portrait of two people who have been rejected by everyone but each other. The story may feel familiar, but you will not soon forget the main characters.