In “Nothing Escapes my Eyes,” filmmaker David Krippendorff intertwines the personal and the urban in portraying an experience of loss, transformation and the pressure to conform to present times. It features acclaimed Arab-Israeli actress Hiam Abbass as she slowly and silently sheds one identity to put on another, transforming herself from a grave operatic diva to her bare-faced self. Shot with cinematic force, the film references two key events in the history of Cairo’s former Royal Opera House (the “Khedivial Opera House”): Inaugurated in 1871 with a premiere of Verdi’s Aida, it was burned down 100 years later, in unclear circumstances.
While the square facing the former opera house still retains its name (“Meidan El Opera”), the building itself was replaced by a multi-storied garage – of the kind that slowly reveals itself as the setting of Krippendorff’s film, when the camera hovers backward. The soundtrack features music from Aida, an opera that deals with conflicting national loyalties. Likewise inspired by the writings of Edward W. Said and the poems of Mahmoud Darwish, this allegorical film sequence manages to address the pertinent issues of conflicted identities and disorientation in post-colonial times and the age of globalism.