‘For Vegas,’ a cinematic account of Ahmed Naji’s journey from prison to exile

Teneleven writer Ahmed Naji is the subject of a new film directed by Robin Greenspun.

An excerpt from Ahmed’s novel, USING LIFE, was published in an Arabic literary magazine in 2014. When a 65-year-old Egyptian man filed a case against Naji and his editor, alleging that a sex scene in the excerpt had caused him palpitations, it set off a chain of events that ultimately saw Ahmed convicted of “violating public modesty” and sentenced to two years in prison. After serving ten months, he was temporarily released but remained under a travel ban until, in 2018, the original sentence was overturned and he was finally able to leave Egypt.

In 2019, he became a Beverly Rogers, Carol C. Harter Black Mountain Institute City of Asylum
Fellow at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas—an exiled writer in a new country, a new city and a new reality. Through his narrative, FOR VEGAS follows Ahmed as he finds his foothold in his adoptive city, striving to understand not only his own life as a writer in exile, but the life of a city whose roots were founded as a waystation, a temporary stop for so many over its storied history. Using the visual and cultural iconography of Las Vegas, at times a love letter, at times a cautionary tale, FOR VEGAS is a poem for and about a city and its culture as told through the eyes and heart of a traveler, a migrant, a seeker of truths.

Watch the trailer over here.

Ahmed’s book Rotten Evidence, a memoir of his obscenity trial and his time in prison, is forthcoming with McSweeney’s in 2023.

And don’t forget 10/11 has English rights for Ahmed Naji’s Tigers, Uninvited, and German rights for Using Life, Rotten Evidence, and Tigers, Uninvited. More on that here.