Thursday,20 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1295, (12 - 18 May 2016)
Thursday,20 September, 2018
Issue 1295, (12 - 18 May 2016)

Ahram Weekly

‘Women filming women’

Al-Ahram Weekly

Last Thursday three young woman filmmakers discussed their female-focused work as part of the SwedAlex or Swedish Institute Alexandria programme WOMEN X, reports Ameera Fouad. Maysoon Al-Massry, Nadine Salibe and Nada Riyadh — who made Aida, Um Ghayeb and Virtual, respectively — typified an astonishingly large number of women filmmakers in the new generation.

The female protagonists — the eponymous Aida, Hanan in Um Ghayeb and Nesma in Virtual — are windows onto discrete worlds. Aida is an 82-year-old woman who sells flowers on the streets of Alexandria. Hanan is an Upper Egyptian woman struggling to have a child (um ghayeb meaning “mother of the unborn”). Nesma, for her part, is a Cairo-based activist who is constantly updating her Facebook status to reflect the situation after the revolution.

According to Asser Mattar, SwedAlex’s media and communications officer, “One of the main topics we try to tackle is women’s issues and gender equality. In the WOMEN X programme, we are expanding narrative spaces for women to express themselves through culture and art. Today, we have three filmmakers, previously we had storytelling and theatrical performances, and we still have more events to come, involving female writers, thinkers, musicians, visual artists and so on. This is in accordance with the feminist foreign policy of Sweden, where equality between women and men is a fundamental aim of Swedish foreign policy.’’

Though the three movies have received worldwide recognition at various festivals, being short films, they have not yet been screened in Egypt. According to Salib, “It is not a matter of making a profit but of people watching them. The audience could easily relate to these live characters. But the only way to do it is by selling them to television channels...”

Citing Egyptian cinema’s male-dominated history and its effective role in women’s issues, Riyadh feels it is less about women per se than humanity at large: “It’s about human beings screening each other. We do not have men filming men, but we only have women filming women. I don’t believe in stereotyping; gender, race, colour, nationality, religion... I wouldn’t want to step into the theatre to find it overflowing with females watching my movie. We are sharing a human experience...”

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