The Luxor African Film Festival, in its 12th session, held from February 4 to 9, organized a symposium entitled “Women in the Film Scene”. Director of the festival, Azza Al-Husseini moderated the seminar, in the presence of actress Salwa Muhammad Ali, Nada Domani, founder and director of the Amman International Festival, artist and producer Bushra, and producer Iman Hamida.
Al-Husseini initiated the event, saying: We are on the third day of the Producers’ Platform and Film Support Program, where today’s issue is about women working in the field of cinema, and their status in cinematic work. Since its inception, Cinema has witnessed women through whom the industry has risen, including Aziza Amir, a comprehensive artist, producer, distributor, and actress; and I think in Egyptian cinema women have rightfully received all elements of the artwork.
Azza Al-Husseini then asked the audience about the extent of the difficulties and challenges they face in their work in this field, and how society perceives it.
Producer Eman Hamida said: The movie “Living Skin” is my first experience in producing documentaries, and its success was caused by the way the film came out which made it roam the world and win awards in festivals for director and author Mohamed Fawzi Saleh.
As for me, my work was related to the production part and obtaining Grants and presentations in festivals, it was such an informative experience, she continued.
For her part, artist and producer Bushra said: Being a woman working in this field was not easy at all, especially since I started at a very young age, and my work as a producer was also difficult because I am a well-known face. Women in our society are seen as a form and not as mind, so it was difficult to accept me as a producer as well.
As for the director of the Amman International Festival, Nada Domani, she had a different point of view on the injustice of women or the lack of sufficient access to her right in this field, as she said: I am very aware that there is some injustice to some women in some fields, but the studies affiliated with the UN say women have taken their full right in the industry, and that their presence in Arab cinema has surpassed women in Europe and America.
Domani added: In my personal experience, I did not find it hard being a woman in cinema, media, or otherwise, and in the end, what matters to me is the final product presented and how it portrays women.
In turn, Salwa Muhammad Ali commented on director Azza Al-Husseini’s question about beauty being the reason for women entering the world of cinema and art, saying: I worked in theater for about 20 years before entering the world of cinema, and it is a well-known fact that working in it makes the years go by magically fast before you even notice.
She went on: As for beauty, in the past, there were specifications for beauty, such as blonde hair, colored eyes, and white skin, and since I am far from these specifications, many directors told me that it was hard for me to work in cinema, but I was fortunate that the standards of beauty changed later, and society’s attitude towards us also changed.
In an intervention from journalist, writer, and art critic, Gamal Abdel Nasser, he shared: Arab cinema loses a lot by failing to present some big stars on the cinema screen through works specifically produced and written for them
He continued: Some models significantly succeeded in drama, such as actress Sawsan Badr, who despite her great success, no cinematic works were written specifically for her, and we also have a lot of stars staying home with no work.