Hassan and Marcus
|Hassan and Marcus|
|Directed by||Ramy Imam|
Omar Sharif, Jr.
|Distributed by||Good News Group|
Being the first collaboration between Adel Imam and Omar Sharif, arguably the most prominent actors in Egypt and the Middle East, the movie was a much-anticipated summer blockbuster. However, its message proved so controversial that Facebook groups sporting Adel Imam's picture in Coptic garb called for a boycott of his movies, and the resulting emotional distress is reported to have prompted Imam to move from his home in Cairo to a summer house in Porto Marina, a resort on Egypt's northern coast. Imam, Sharif and other collaborators on the film have vehemently defended its content and criticised many conservatives and religious extremists who consider it blasphemous.
When the lives of Mahmoud, a Muslim Sheikh (Omar Sharif) and Boulos, a Christian Priest (Adel Imam) are threatened by religious extremists on both sides, the Egyptian government inducts them into a witness protection program that requires them to disguise themselves as the Christian Marcus and a Muslim Sheikh, Hassan el-Attar, respectively.
When, unwittingly, they move into the same building, a friendship blossoms that must, along with a romance between the protagonists' children, withstand the difficulties of prejudice and social persecution.
Hassan and Morcos doesn't attempt to name the reasons for the tension between Christians and Muslims. But according to the political writer and Coptic Christian Sameh Fawzi, the conflicts have nothing to do with religion.
The film addresses issues of religious extremism, intolerance and sectarian violence, and emphasises the possibility of friendship and love between members of different religions.
Imam said of the film:
- "I have declared war using art against the extremists - against those who foment differences between us. I hope Christians and Muslims will leave the cinema and embrace one another."
Muslim movie star Adel Imam was accused of apostasy by Facebook activists over his role as a Coptic Christian priest in the film. The group accused him of promoting Christianity and discouraged Muslims from seeing the film. The group's mission statement read “This man is promoting conversion to Christianity and I am calling upon you to boycott him." Another group was also created for the same purpose under the title “Boycott Imam’s new movie.” The criticism of Imam occurred during a tense period marked by violent clashes between Muslims and Coptic Christians in Egypt.