WASHINGTON - Egypt’s legendary movie critic and film historian Youssef Cherif Rizkallah, the man who helped popularize Hollywood movie reviews on Egyptian and Middle East televisions, died Friday.
His death comes two days after revealing he had kidney problems. He was 76.
The famed broadcast journalist, best known as Egypt’s mobile movie encyclopedia, was an invaluable film resource for Arab media. He wrote thousands of movie reviews for Egyptian and Arab newspapers, magazines, radio and TV shows.
Rizkallah, who prepared and co-hosted three iconic and popular movie review shows on Egyptian television, including, Oscar, Telecinema, and The Magic Lantern, started his career as a news editor with the Egyptian TV News in the 1960s after graduating with a political science degree at Cairo University. In the 1980s, he hosted a show that introduced Hollywood stars to Egyptian and Arab audiences.
The Jesuit-educated movie critic, Rizkallah, was drawn most in his early career to romance and classical storytelling of Hollywood greats like Michael Curtiz, David Lean, Blake Edwards, Richard Attenborough, Garry Marshall, and Rob Reiner.
He introduced several Hollywood stars via satellite on Egyptian televisions, including actress Meryl Streep and American film actor and director Peter Bogdanovich.
“It is a sheer joy for me to invite Hollywood stars to Egypt, watch their movies and write about them,” he once said. He helped establish more than 40 years ago the Cairo International Film Festival, where many colleagues describe him as a perceptive and world movie guide.
Multi-lingual Rizkallah won several awards for film criticism over the past 20 years, during which he travelled the world to cover film festivals, including Cannes in France, where he was a frequent guest critic. He was also granted The Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, an Order of France.
Rizkallah was buried Friday in Cairo. He is survived by his wife Mervat el-Ebiary, the daughter of a famed screenplay writer, and their two sons – Ahmed and Karim.