Youssef Chahine (Arabic: يوسف شاهين; 25 January 1926 – 27 July 2008) was an Egyptian film director active in the Egyptian film industry since 1950. He was credited with launching the career of actor Omar Sharif. A critically acclaimed director frequently seen in film festivals during decades, Chahine also had his reach to wider international filmgoers’ audiences as one of the co-directors of 11’9″01 September 11.
Chahine was born in Alexandria, Egypt to a Christian family. His father was at some point during his life a supporter of the nationalist Wafd Party. His mother was of Greek descent. Chahine was raised in his father’s Catholic faith. At his childhood home in the cosmopolitan city of Alexandria, the family spoke four languages. In 2001, a trip was paid by Chahine to his father’s land in Zahle, Lebanon, where a street was named after him. Although born a Christian,Youssef Chahine was not a believer in organized religion and it was stated that, if asked of his religion, he would reply: “Egyptian”.
Fascinated by the performing arts from an early age, young Chahine began to create shows at home for his family. Chahine began his education at a Frères’ school Collège Saint Marc. Growing up, he attended Alexandria’s elite Victoria College. In 1946, Chahine convinced his parents to let him travel to Hollywood to study acting, where he attended the Pasadena Playhouse outside Los Angeles, California.