Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Tentmakers of Chareh El Khiamiah by Kim S Beamish

The Tentmakers of Chareh El Khiamiah is a feature length documentary about a small street of Egyptian textile workers adapting to the consequences of the 25 January revolution.

See a short preview to the video here:

We are looking to raise $20,000 to cover our travel and production hard costs, which will include the need for a large amount of transcription and translation from colloquial Egyptian Arabic to English.

Over the next few months, we will travel with three of the stitchers from Chareh El Khiamiah to Paris, France, and to Lancaster and Paducah in the USA. There we will follow their attendance at three of the largest textiles and quilting exhibitions in the world. We will interview many of the stitchers in Chareh El Khiamiah about the recent changes in the street since the introduction of cheap printed fabrics and the effects the Egyptian revolution has had on the street. We will spend time in their shops, workshops and homes getting to know them, their families and their communities. We will also spend time with contemporary artists as well as textile artists and quilters who have and are being inspired by this uniquely Egyptian art form.

The way Pozible works is that if we don’t get the $20,000 all the money will be returned to the donors. We need a budget of at least this amount to be able to honour our pledge of bringing this film to you. If we get over $20,000, all the extra money will be put directly into making the film even better, with more money spent on editing time, producing titles, artwork and music. This would also mean that the film would remain that little bit more independent and we will be able to tell the story the way we want to and the way you want to see it.

The Tentmakers of Chareh El Khiamiah is a feature length documentary which starts its journey in a run down, noisy, dusty ancient souk, or market, in Old Islamic Cairo. Throughout, the film focuses on the human side of Chareh El Khiamiah; a film about the real Egypt, about traditions, history and community.
After the fall of Hosni Mubarak’s regime in 2011, tourists who would have flocked to Egypt year round stopped coming and so did their money. Prior to the revolution small streets such as Chareh El Khiamiah relied heavily on the tourist trade, as they sold their wares into the larger more famous market, Khan El Khalili. That trade is now all but gone and it is time for new markets to be found in Europe and the USA.
Enter the world of quilt-making and textiles, and the large art and trade fairs that go with them. The Tentmakers have broken in and are now rock stars in a world of bright lights and high tech, a world largely dominated by women. They are the new kids on the block, ready to take full advantage of this new market, whilst also demonstrating to the world how they hand-stitch such magnificent art.
On return to Egypt, these men’s lives shift to a slower pace as they enter obscurity. In Egypt they are known only to a few who admire and appreciate their work. These admirers include contemporary Egyptian artists who have started seeing the potential for this art form, adapting it for modern pieces some of which have gained international interest - one such design sold for tens of thousands of dollars in an exhibition outside of Egypt.
Chareh el Khiamiah is a small street of businessmen who have been competing in a ruthless world of Egyptian commerce for decades. There is gossip, grudges and vindictiveness, whilst at the same time these men always stand side by side when challenged and help those in need.

The Tentmakers of Chareh El Khiamiah will be released in December 2014.

On only my third day in Cairo I stood on the street known as 26th July waiting for a woman I had met once before, a week ago in a cafe in Canberra, Australia. Jenny Bowker, who I would later find out is a big name in the quilting world and an even bigger name on the street of the Tentmakers, was taking me to meet the Tentmakers of Cairo. I had my doubts as to how interested I was going to be, as I had no real knowledge of textiles. However, when speaking to Jenny, she had that look in her eye like this really meant something. So the least I could do was take a look.

Since that day, I have been filming almost four to five days out of every seven in a street that must be no more than 200 metres long with approximately 17 shops and maybe 30 stitchers. My whole idea of what Cairo is, even Egypt is, comes from this street and these people. I have sat through some of the biggest and bloodiest moments in recent Egyptian history in this street. Since meeting these men I have traveled with them to international art shows and been accepted into their community as a brother, attending family events and religious festivals.

For more information about the film and more videos go to


1 comment:

Kim Beamish said...

Thank you Susan.

Lets hope we get to raise enough support to really make this a great film and get the word out there about this unique Egyptian art form.

If people are keen to support go to

Kim Beamish
Producer/ Director
The Tentmakers of Chareh El Khiamiah