• Golden Globe Awards

Mawlana (The Preacher) (Georgia/Egypt)

A highly political drama that shows the implications of celebrity culture and the influence of fame on sensitive topics like religion, is the premise of The Preacher, an Egyptian film by director Magdi Ahmed Ali. Sheikh Hatem (Amr Saad) is a high-profile television celebrity and talk-show host in a society influenced by fundamentalist views. From leading the prayers at a government mosque, he becomes a popular TV celebrity discussing lifestyle views with a non-traditional religious rhetoric and in the process gains millions of followers. His responses on TV make him a very charismatic and articulate figure in his country. But he soon also becomes a target for his enemies who see him as a threat to their agenda. That is when Hatem becomes involved in a complex chain of events which take a toll on his personal and professional life as he tries to stay above the politics of the situation.Hatem’s rise to celebrity preacher is depicted in a fast-paced montage as a prologue to the main story. He marries the beautiful, supportive Omaima, they have a boy and live a very comfortable life after his popularity. The plot begins to thicken when Hatem is introduced to the president’s son, Galal (a clear reference to Gamal Mubarak), who asks for help with a pressing family matter: his brother-in-law, Hassan (Ahmed Magdy), has decided to convert to Christianity, and they need someone to try to convince him that is not a good idea for many political and social reasons.What follows is an intricate reflection on the interplay of politics and religion, and the vicious power struggles involved. The film is based on the novel ‘The Televangelist’ by journalist and TV presenter Ibrahim Eissa, and is clearly intended to portray the disintegration of Hatem’s moral code and family life as a result the corrupt system in where the so-called spiritual leaders are mostly puppets that serve political interests of the government. The Preacher is a poignant tale of how politics and religion make for an explosive combination in some areas of the world.