Youssef Chahine

In the sprawling, semi-autobiographical film Alexandria ... Why?, someone says of the young hero, a would-be filmmaker, "The boy knows exactly what he wants. He'll make it." Youssef Chahine did make it--a busy, exemplary career that spanned nearly six decades of making movies, myths and trouble and ended when he died July 27, at 82, six weeks after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage.

Few of his 40-plus features achieved any kind of release in the U.S., and his only impact on Hollywood movies was that he made a star of a young Egyptian named Omar Sharif. But at film festivals, Chahine was...

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