El Sebou': Egyptian Birth Ritual by Fadwa El Guindi hs been awarded


Grand Prize, Best Ethnographic Film
on Arab Culture,
Palermo, 1989


AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE
SOCIETY FOR VISUAL ANTHROPOLOGY

Film and Video Festival
 



Anthropological Excellence in Film

El Sebou': Egyptian Birth Ritual (1986) 28-min. Study Guide available (El Nil Research). In Egypt, a birth ritual called el-sebou', meaning "the seventh", happens on the seventh day following the physical birth of a child of either sex and is celebrated by Coptic and Muslim families of all status groups, rural and urban. Characteristic of this ritual is gender-linked imagery that is also manifest in the ritual clay pot. The ceremony celebrates the newborn's crossing a threshold from having neutral gender and neutral status into a world of gender and family. This particular sebou' is celebrated for twins, a boy and a girl, in a rising middle class Muslim family in urban Egypt. Anthropologist Fadwa El Guindi portrays the sebou' ritual as a rite of passage with the universal three phases of transition (separation, liminality, incorporation)} and as the key ceremony in an individual's life cycle until marriage. The film focuses on -- and shows the proveniences of -- a variety of objects and materials used in the ritual. The way the filming was done helps highlight the central role of the female ritual leader and provides a kinesthetic spatial sense of aspects of the ritual. The editing combines an analytic approach and an emic approach, allowing participants to speak for themselves without losing a broader anthropological perspective. Anthropologist/filmmaker: Fadwa El Guindi, 1987 Award for Excellence

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