The eagerly-anticipated short film 60 Egyptian Pounds, which is written and directed by renowned filmmaker Amr Salama, will be opening the sixth edition of El Gouna Film Festival (GFF) — running from October 13th to the 20th — and is the first ever short film in history to open an Arab film festival.
The short film is a collaboration between multi-award-winning director Salama and up-and-coming Egyptian rapper Ziad Zaza in his first acting role and will be competing in the GFF’s short film competition, where it’s set to have its world premiere.
The short film is loosely inspired by Ziad Zaza song of the same name and tackles the topic of domestic abuse; an issue that is important to Salama and Zaza both of which wanted to shed better light on it through striking, immersive cinematography, visual storytelling, and raw performances from both Zaza and the rest of the cast.
Upon the film’s acquisition, Salama shared his insight on the making of the short, which he dubbed a ‘passion project.’ “Working on 60 Egyptian Pounds was a liberating and refreshing experience. As a follower and fan of the Egyptian hip-hop scene, I was amazed by its grassroots authenticity. I was curious to explore this art form and the background of its leading artists and to add the storytelling element to it in order to take this authenticity and turn it into a compelling story.”
60 Egyptian Pounds follows aspiring rapper Ziad and his family, who have long suffered at the hands of his abusive father. However, when tensions reach a boiling point, Ziad takes it upon himself to end his family’s suffering once and for all.
The short was lensed by Ahmed Tarek Bayoumi, edited by Ahmed Hafez, and stars trap artist Ziad Zaza, Tarek El-Deweri, Hamza Diab, and Rawheya Salem.
One of the most prominent trap artists in the current scene, Ziad Zaza has rapidly established himself in Egypt's rap scene thanks to his unique approach to drill music. Since the release of his debut album EL RAYS, the musician has developed a cult-like following thanks to his unconventional delivery and aggressive singing style.
Zaza has always done his best to convey the ideas of the new generation through his lyrics and songs as well as discuss the issues that dominate his age group. He has many successful songs that have become incredibly popular, including KARRETA SARREFA, ZAZA, BASHA, LEH TEDAYE’, and DAYRA, which was top trending on YouTube when it was released. The film features an original track written and performed by Zaza.
Meanwhile, Amr Salama is an Egyptian filmmaker and screenwriter who was born in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
He began his career by primarily directing short movies and commercials before releasing his first feature film, ON A DAY LIKE TODAY, in 2008. He then directed the hit film EXCUSE MY FRENCH, which was based on, by his own admission, his experiences at a public middle school in Egypt after his return from Saudi Arabia.
The Egyptian Censorship Board rejected the film on the grounds that the film portrayed sectarianism that “did not exist in the country” and that the film was provocative enough to cause a civil war before finally being released in 2014 to great acclaim by audiences and critics alike.
What would become his second creation while EXCUSE MY FRENCH jumped the hurdles of the Censorship Board was the AIDS-themed drama ASMAA, which earned him international attention when it premiered at the Abu Dhabi International Film Festival, where it won Best Arab Director before winning another two awards at the Fribourg International Film Festival.
Salama then co-directed the documentary TAHRIR 2011: THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE POLITICIAN, which scored UNESCO’s CICT-IFTC Award at the 68th Venice International Film Festival and numerous other international awards.
After that, his 2017 film SHEIKH JACKSON world premiered at the 42nd Toronto International Film Festival, where it received excellent reviews before opening the first edition of the El Gouna Film Festival and going on to become Egypt's official submission for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards that year. It has since received several awards at several regional and international film festivals.
Since then, Salama has worked on several other provocative and/or revolutionary hits that went on to become smashing successes, including MADE IN EGYPT, TAYEA, the first Egyptian Netflix original series PARANORMAL, Shahid’s original series BIMBO and more recently; BARA EL MANHAG.
Amr Salama's films have participated in dozens of national and international festivals and won many awards, most notably the Toronto, Cairo, El Gouna, Carthage, Munich, Washington, Abu Dhabi, Freiburg, London, Zurich, and Palm Springs film festivals.