Smokey Eyes; A Bold Take on Every Girl’s Story on the Streets of Cairo

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Mon, 08 Jul 2024 - 08:45 GMT

BY

Mon, 08 Jul 2024 - 08:45 GMT

A scene from “Smokey Eyes” movie.

A scene from “Smokey Eyes” movie.

 

 
It’s not an easy feat to make a film that boldly addresses one of the most sensitive and taboo topics in society, even more so in post-revolution Egypt, where morality is hyper-policed and alternative media faces more censorship than most.
 
However, director Ali Ali — one of the biggest names in advertising and commercial directing — has been wanting to make a film based on a true story his sister, Nancy Ali, experienced years ago that, while controversial and widely viewed as problematic by Egyptian society, he found crucial to bring to the screen to start a conversation on what Egyptian women face on the street daily; from here, SMOKEY EYES was born.
 
Shaped skillfully and artistically under Ali’s hands, his short film directorial debut came to life and held an impressive world premiere at the Red Sea International Film Festival and is set for an equally successful run at the upcoming Amman International Film Festival.
 
Diving into the aftermath of the 2011 Egyptian uprising, SMOKEY EYES highlights ongoing social issues such as policing immorality, religious tensions, and restricted freedoms for women, and takes a closer look at Nour, one of a million young Egyptian girls whose dating lives are dictated by traditions and restrictions.
 
The director — through Nour’s story of her night date with her boyfriend Figo  — takes us on a journey to explore the streets of Cairo, capturing all its beauty, ugliness, chaos, and joy thanks to his extensive experience in the advertising field, but he also manages to capture the terrors and trauma that a stolen kiss in the darkened Cairene streets can cause an Egyptian girl.
 
We watch with bated breath as a policeman becomes Nour’s judge and executioner in a matter of minutes, condemning her to be a “tramp” simply because she was caught trying to steal a kiss with her boyfriend with no personal identification on her person.
 
This perhaps reflects exactly what Ali attempts to explore through the film itself. Ali has long been fascinated by the idea of a fortified city where public displays of affection between lovers are not allowed; a matter made all the more complicated by the obstacles present to those who wish to film in those streets freely. In this dystopia-come-true, Nour finds herself staring at her mirror, having achieved the desired smokey-eyes look she was going for in the beginning of the film, albeit under tragic circumstances.
 
SMOKEY EYES stars Malak Bazid and Marwan Moussa — in his acting debut — alongside Hassan Abouelrouss, Nourine Abouseada, and Mohamed Aboughali.
 
The film is also directed by Ali Ali, written by Nancy Ali, lensed by Pierre Mouarkech, edited by Nada Zag, and produced by Khaled Zaki of GoodPeople Films, with the soundtrack composed by Sary Hany.
 

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