Cairo Exit

World Narrative Competition

International Premiere

Egypt, United Arab Emirates | 96 MINUTES | Arabic |



Yearning to be as free as she feels when motorbiking the dusty back streets of Cairo with her Muslim boyfriend Tarek, 18-year-old Amal is torn between absconding to Italy illegally by boat with her beloved, or staying in Egypt with her Coptic Orthodox Christian family. Amal cannot bear to consider the future she faces as a poor woman in Egypt, reflected in the lives of her sister and best friend: one makes grave sacrifices so her son can have a better life, while the other prepares for a surgery to feign her virginity so she can enter into a loveless marriage to an older, wealthy foreigner. But even as Amal actively seeks out opportunities for self-sufficiency, it is ultimately fate that will determine her path.

Director Hesham Issawi's sophomore effort, co-written with Amal Afify, offers a rare, insider portrait of Cairo's working people from the perspectives of four young women struggling to carve out a better future.


Co-hosted by



Directed by Hesham Issawi

HESHAM ISSAWI was born in Egypt and raised in a devoutly intellectual Egyptian family. He moved to America in 1990 to study anthropology but changed his major from anthropology to art and photography. He graduated from Columbia College Chicago and directed the award-winning short films The Interrogation and T For Terrorist and the feature AmericanEast.
Tamar Karwan
Sherif Mandour
Hesham Issawi, Amal Afify
Hesham Issawi
Primary Cast
Mohamed Ramadan, Maryhan, Sana Mouziane, Saffa Galal, Ahmed Bidder
Director of Photography
Patrik Thelander


Sales Contact
Brian Cox
Distant Horizon Films
Los Angeles, CA 90290
Phone: 310.455.0759
Press Contact
Hesham Issawi
Santa Monica, CA 90404
Sherif Mandour
Film House Egypt
Mohandessien, CairoPhone: +2 023 3370 802