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Can YouTubers give kiss of life to Egyptian cinema?

The casting of a popular YouTube prankster in the title role of the Egyptian remake of "Joker" has started a debate on the future of the Egyptian cinema sector.
Egyptians walk past an advertisement featuring the Egyptian film "Mawlana" ("The Preacher") at a cinema in Cairo, Egypt January 23, 2017. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany - RC1CBD0FE750

CAIRO — For budding actors in Egypt, the Hollywood of the Middle East, being discovered no longer means endless auditions or cruising the cafes where they hope to meet a director or producer. In our days, they may try their luck at cyberspace — YouTube or TikTok — hoping that their widely followed clips or prank shows can catch the eye of a producer and land them a cushy film deal.

This is exactly what happened to Ekramy Hagras, a widely followed influencer whose shows on YouTube, Facebook and TikTok attract hundreds of thousands viewers. Hagras' short clips and sarcastic prank shows have about 1.7 million followers on YouTube, and his Facebook account is followed by about 459,000 people.

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