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In the Shadow of the Pyramids... – A Tribute to Animation from the African Continent

  1. Overview
  2. Description
  3. Films

In 1996, for the very first time, thanks to the CNC’s loving restoration, the audience at the Festival discovered the Frenkel brothers’ films. This year they are returning to Annecy.

In 1935, in the shadow of the Gizeh pyramids, Herschel, Shlomo and David Frenkel, fascinated by American animation film but completely virgin to animation techniques, decide to direct their first animation film Mafish Fayda.

After several months with their noses to the grindstone, Mish Mish Effendi, their hero, hopped onto the big screens in Cairo and was greeted with immediate public success. Without realising, the Frenkel brothers had just provided Egypt with its first animated production using drawings.

Encouraged to continue along this path, they quickly start on a new production Mish Mish el shater (Mish Mish the Brave, 1936), but Egypt is not spared by the Second World War and the trio are called upon in 1939 by the country’s authorities to make a propaganda film, Al Difaa al watani (National Defence, 1940). The war may have put a pause on their production, but it didn’t halt their inventiveness or their conviction to continue this journey. Bel hana oushafa (Enjoy Your Food!) is released in 1946.

Subsequently recognised and appreciated in this field, they are also asked to do advertising films. But their Egyptian career is stopped in its tracks and the trio must reinvent themselves with a new professional and artistic life in exile far from their beloved pyramids, in the Parisian suburbs.

Bukra fil mish mish (Tomorrow, When The Apricots Bloom, 2019), the documentary by Tal Michael about the Frenkel brothers accurately retraces, with the use of numerous supporting documents, the fate of this family of self-taught artists and inventors. To discover this unique work, two films by the Frenkel trio precede this documentary.

Lastly, we take advantage of this session to focus on the pioneers of Egyptian animation film to pay tribute to Ihab Shaker (1933-2019), children’s illustrator, press cartoonist and director of several animation films, including the mischievous Un, deux, trois..., made in 1974 in Paris thanks to the technical support and kindness of Paul Grimault (1905-1994).

Jean-Baptiste Garnero

In charge of research and the promotion of film collections

CNC – Cinematic Heritage Directorate

Access, Promotion and Collections Development Department

A session presented by the CNC with assistance from the Frenkel heritage, the Films d’Ici Méditerranée, as well as Samira Shafik and the AFCA.


  • Un, deux, trois...

    France, Egypt - Ihab SHAKER

  • Mafish fayda

    Egypt - David FRENKEL, Salomon FRENKEL, Harry FRENKEL

  • El difaa el watani

    Egypt - David FRENKEL, Salomon FRENKEL, Harry FRENKEL

  • Tête dure

    Egypt - David FRENKEL, Salomon FRENKEL, Harry FRENKEL

  • Bukra Film Mish Mish

    Israel, France - Tal MICHAEL