Headed to the San Francisco International Film Festival on Friday, I was really looking forward to an evening of music and film, with Ahmad Abdalla’s Microphone on the agenda for the evening. Having followed the recent revolution that rocked Egypt, I was especially anticipating being transported to Alexandria’s underground art and music scene.

The film was introduced by Khaled Abol Naga, who co-produced and starred in Microphone (as himself). Khaled shared with us that, interestingly, the movie was set to screen in Egypt on January 25, 2011, the day on which the Egyptian Revolution began.

Microphone illustrated on a much smaller scale its own uprising and the quest of young people – independent musicians and artists in particular – to get their voices heard.

Khaled is an Egyptian expat and avid music lover who returns to Alexandria after several years abroad and finds his calling struggling to showcase the music of young rappers, bands, and graffiti artists (speaking of which, did you make it to the Indoor Mural project at 941Geary – amazing!).

Not surprisingly, Khaled faces many of the same obstacles highlighted in the news recently in Egypt, including censorship and a religious establishment that do their best to quash any voice calling for change or expressing an alternative opinion.

Microphone’s music was vibrant and captivating, even if that was not always the case with the two-hour film. I definitely enjoyed the last hour of the film more than the first (I struggled to stay engaged initially because I found the storyline a bit disjointed). And the Memento-like scenes of Khaled’s time reuniting with the love his life, along with the energetic and vivid Alexandria street scenes, provided an entertaining backdrop to the film’s otherwise at-times slow unfolding of events.

Microphone plays again on Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. at the Kabuki.

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