Free Trip to Egypt Parent Guide
A magical film with messages about the power of simply listening to others.
Parent Movie Review
Canadian entrepreneur Tarek Mounib is living in Switzerland when he has an idea that he simply can’t shake. Concerned about rising hostility towards Muslims, Tarek decides to try to change the world one person at a time. He heads to the USA to offer Americans a free trip to Egypt with the opportunity to interact with ordinary Egyptians while he films a documentary about the experience. His invitation to Americans is, “Come on over. Meet us. Let’s exchange ideas. Let me understand what you’re afraid of in me.”
Much to Tarek’s surprise, people are deeply suspicious of his offer and he has few takers. He tries wearing a MAGA hat and conversing with attendees outside a Trump rally, posting a YouTube video about his offer and finally appearing on a radio program. Eventually the applications come in and Tarek ends up with a mixed bag of Americans: senior citizens frightened of Muslims post 9/11, two Marines (one with a traumatic past), a Kentucky beauty queen, an African American police officer, and an earnest evangelical Christian. The participants have a variety of reasons for coming on the expedition – curiosity, a desire to travel, a wish to understand another culture, a longing to shed racist feelings, Christian evangelization.
Once in Egypt, the Americans are paired up with Egyptians. The hosts, too, are a diverse group. From a computer science student to a devoutly religious family; from a journalist to a motorcycle riding divorcee; married and single, the Egyptians without exception take the Americans into their hearts. They take them to the markets, to family dinners, to mosques, to the pyramids, and tell them the stories of their lives. And the Americans share their heartaches and they weep together. “I love your face” says one Egyptian woman to American senior citizen Ellen Decker after sharing the hardships of her past.
Free Trip to Egypt could easily have dissolved into a saccharine kumbaya-around-the-campfire series of montages. But it doesn’t. Director Ingrid Serban resists the temptation to demonize or pigeonhole any of the participants. Most of the movie’s time is given to the Americans, portrayed as complex, sometimes wounded, people whose opinions arise out of their culture and life experiences. As they travel around Egypt and interact with Egyptians, not only are their opinions about Muslims modified, but their perspectives on their own culture and beliefs are challenged. And those changes go even deeper. As Ellen says of her husband’s experience on the trip: “He changed – so light in his heart. He wanted to be with people; to talk with people. He was happier than I’ve ever known him to be.”
Watching Free Trip to Egypt can be a magical experience. There is some unnecessary profanity, but other than that, parents can happily expose their teens to this movie’s positive messages about empathy, compassion, and our shared humanity. Given the multitude of voices spouting words of hatred, division, and fear, it is high time we saw a film extolling the power that comes when people with open hearts are willing to simply sit and listen to one another. Tarek might not have changed the world when he took seven Americans to Egypt, but hopefully his film will touch the hearts of millions more.Directed by Ingrid Serban. Starring Katie Appeldorn, Jenna Day, and Ellen Decker.. Running time: 98 minutes. Theatrical release July 12, 2019. Updated July 17, 2019
Watch the trailer for Free Trip to Egypt
Free Trip to Egypt
Rating & Content Info
Why is Free Trip to Egypt rated Not Rated? Free Trip to Egypt is rated Not Rated by the MPAA
Violence: A woman recounts a domestic assault that left her child with a fractured skull. People discuss fears of terrorism, hostage taking or being shot.
Sexual Content: None noted.
Profanity: Approximately seven uses of the sexual expletive, a half dozen terms of deity and an anatomical curse word.
Alcohol / Drug Use: People are seen drinking alcohol in social situations. People are seen smoking briefly.
Page last updated July 17, 2019
Free Trip to Egypt Parents' Guide
Are you afraid of people of another ethnic, racial or religious group? Why? Have you ever had a real conversation with anyone from the group you fear? What would you ask them? What would you tell them about yourself?
Tarek Mounib has launched #PledgeToListen in the hopes that people will be willing to listen to others to eliminate prejudice, understand one another, and reduce the amount of contention and hostility in the world. Do you want to
Loved this movie? Try these books…
There is no shortage of wonderful books about reaching across the cultural divide.
The Bread of Angels: A Journey to Love and Faith recounts Stephanie Saldana’s trip to Syria to study Islam and go deeper into her own Christian faith. Her descriptions of Damascus (before the civil war) are evocative and she has a gift for capturing the personalities of the Syrians she meets.
In Day of Honey: A Memoir of Food, Love, and War, Polish-American journalist Anna Ciezadlo recounts her experiences in Baghdad and Beirut, her husband’s hometown. As she cooks and eats with the peoples of the Middle East, she comes to know about their lives and their cultures.
Christians, Jews, and Muslims seem locked in an endless cycle of religious conflict. In Not in God’s Name: Confronting Religious Violence, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks examines religious violence, group identity, and mis-readings of the foundational scriptural texts shared by the three Abrahamic faiths to provide suggestions for ways these groups can learn to live together.
If you want to learn more about Egypt and its awe-inspiring history, a comprehensive account can be found in The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt by Ian Shaw. For a more lighthearted version, suitable for younger readers, check out Horrible Histories: Awful Egyptians.
If you want to take your own trip to Egypt, you might want to browse Lonely Planet’s Egypt for suggestions on seeing as much as possible.
Parents looking for books about inclusion and respect for young readers can read Whoever You Are by Mem Fox, Same, Same but Different by Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw, All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold and Suzanne Kaufman, and A Life Like Mine: How Children Live Around the World by DK and Unicef.
Related home video titles:
Spencer Tracey and Katharine Hepburn play liberal parents in the 1960s who are startled when their daughter comes home with an African-American fiancé. Guess Who’s Coming to Dinnertests the depth of their belief in racial equality.
Tracy Turnblad has been raised in a completely white social environment. But when she develops an interest in dancing, she makes friends with African-Americans in Hairspray.
In Fiddler on the Roof, Tevye’s daughters challenge tradition; none more than the daughter who wants to marry someone who isn’t Jewish.
Bride & Prejudiceis a modern, multicultural retelling of Jane Austen’s classic novel, Pride & Prejudice. In this Bollywood-style movie, Will Darcy comes to India, struggles with culture shock, and falls in love. Can the couple overcome their cultural and other differences and find a happily ever after?