Synopsis by Mark Deming
Filmmaker Ahmad Abdalla offers a bittersweet look at the past and present of one neighborhood in Cairo in this drama. Heliopolis was an upscale neighborhood in the Egyptian capitol that was designed and built by Europeans to appeal to those with sophisticated tastes, but many of the original residents fled after the revolution of 1952, and while it still shows some of its original beauty and glamour, the cultural diversity of the neighborhood has faded to the extent that Vera (Aida Abdel-Aziz), one of the tenants of a Heliopolis apartment complex, hesitates to tell her neighbors that she's a Jew. Vera is willing to share her story with Ibrahim (Khaled Abol Naga), a student working on a research project about the revolution and its aftermath. As Vera and Ibrahim chat, Dr. Hany (Hany Adel), a physician living nearby, is sorting out his affairs before emigrating to Canada, where his wife and children are already living. Hany is waiting for Maha (Aya Soliman) and Ali (Atef Yousef), a young couple interested in buying out his apartment, but the intense Cairo traffic makes a simple matter such as driving across town all but impossible. And as wealthy tourists wander in and out of a hotel down the street, desk clerk Engy (Hanan Motawe) watches them and cannot understand the way they live. Heliopolis was the first feature film from Ahmad Abdalla.