Saturday, May 9, 2009

Contract to Print a Poster

Most of us who collect film posters are interested in them because they are nice to display and perhaps also because they are investments. We usually realize those collecting ideas are transmutations. Most film posters were not made for collectors. They were made to perform a business function--to help sell theater tickets--and were considered part of a film's marketing cost. After being used in that capacity they were usually thrown out, at least in the old days. There is a greater tendency to hang on to posters now, but most of them are still practically worthless and probably deserve to be thrown out.

It is interesting, to add background and depth to the hobby, to look whenever possible at information about the transactions that led to a poster's design and production. I have here a rare pairing of an 33-year-old Egyptian poster and a contract for its production:

I Am Neither Sane nor Insane [ana la 'aqela wa la magnuna] (1976) - (Mahmoud Yassine)

Contract dated 10/4/1975 between Arabic Cinema Printers and Ibrahim Shusha Films to print the above poster

The film was done by Houssam El-Din Mustafa, one of Egypt's greatest directors, and stars Mahmoud Yassine, then a major leading actor in Egypt. It is based on a story by Ihsan Abd al-Qudus (1919-1990), renowned Egyptian novelist and journalist who edited the Cairo newspapers Al-Akhbar and Al-Ahram.

The contract is the only one of its kind I've seen so far, done by Gasour, the most famous movie poster printer and artist in Egypt and the only one ever to receive an Egyptian academy award for poster design. A contract signed by him is itself something special to have for a poster collector! The director of Arabic Cinema Printers is named in the contract as Hassan Mazhar Gasour, but the printer company logo on the poster itself has the name H.H. Gasour. H.H. Gasour is the name Mr. Gasour used for his Oraby Street shop in downtown Cairo; "H.H." are the initials of his daughters, Hala and Hanna.

The contract provides that Arabic Cinema Printers will design and print 7,000 one-sheet posters, 400 24-sheet posters and 1,000 lobby cards at a cost of 1,208 Egyptian pounds, which includes a fee of 100 pounds (about $250 at that time) for designing the posters and lobby cards. The contract also says the task of designing and printing the posters and lobby cards will be completed 25 days after the contract is signed, and gives a schedule of installment payments to be made to the printer. It is signed by Hassan Mazhar Gasour (with the Arabic Cinema Printers official rubber stamp) and Ibrahim Shusha, the film's distributor.

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