What Comes Around
Impact | VIFF Impact
"Poverty isn’t lack of money, it’s lack of soul". If this dictum is true, then the residents of Rod el Farag, a lively but impoverished neighbourhood in central Cairo, are wealthy indeed. Lebanese-Egyptian director Reem Saleh spent seven years filming this tight-knit community of friends and family members through their trials and celebrations, in the process creating one of the most surprising, granular and fascinating documentaries of the year.
Um Ghareeb, a matriarch of the Rod el Farag universe, is one of driving forces behind their own ‘micro-financing’ initiative: essentially a small credit union that residents pay into and whose funds are collectively put to use on members’ most pressing needs. From weddings, to funerals, to a son’s motorbike purchase, this small group of neighbours leverages their savings where they think best each week. It’s not just a matter of material need; it’s about living together with dignity. As Um Ghareeb notes, the neighbourhood feels like "one big family"—complete with its playful bickerings and grievances. Even though the very real day-to-day challenges of physical and financial survival weigh heavy, Saleh’s film underlines the joy, laughter, and acts of willful individuality.