Cabaret Crusades is an epic trilogy that tells the story of the medieval crusades from the Arab perspective. Based on the book of essays The Crusades through Arab Eyes, written in French in 1983 by the Lebanese historian Amin Maalouf, Shawky rewrites the bellicose expeditions of the eleventh to thirteenth centuries, which the Western papacy sent to the Middle East to re-conquer the Holy Land. Cabaret Crusades: The Path to Cairo (2012) is a horror film made with clay puppets handmade by the artist following the craftsmanship techniques of the provincial region of the Aubagne, which he knew firsthand from an artist residency. Classical Arabic – the language of newsletters and texts from the Koran – endows the filmic narrative with the voice of authority. The clay, which brings toughness, along with Shawky’s designs, result in terrifying and grotesque figures in a mythical and surreal atmosphere that blends drama and cynicism. It does not create the illusion of realism or hide the strings that manipulate the characters. On the contrary, they become a metaphor to highlight the inevitable power networks in the construction of history.

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