Neighbours is not just a story about Garden City, a compound once inhabited by the crème de la crème of society in Egypt. It is also about the memories and experiences of all who lived there, whether at the height of its glory, or as it is now.
By focusing on the people whose lives have been touched by this small area of Cairo, director Tahani Rached manages to do something that is rarely achieved with documentaries — she made it human. With only Garden City as the common point between all who were interviewed, from former inhabitants to current ones, from shopkeepers to embassy representatives, every comment connected with the audience.
It is obvious that she cares a lot about this subject, and the reason why is just as simple.
"I live in Garden City," Rached laughed. "There was such a wealth of material, everyone was open with me. They all wanted to share their stories... afterwards, when we were editing the footage, we showed the finished product to some of the people who were interviewed. Some to get their approval and some because of security concerns, as we had filmed interviews in several embassies," she added.
The film uses clips of classic films to showcase the villas in Garden City in all their glory, as well as using home movies.
"When we went to get archived material, the quality that we were provided by the government was very bad quality. So we decided that instead of news footage, we would use cinema archives to show just how life back then was," Mona Assad, the documentary's executive producer, said.