Nour el-Sherif - file photo
CAIRO- 12 August 2017: Veteran Egyptian actor Nour el-Sherif was a true star who gained the love of the audience across the silver screen, TV and theater.
Two years ago, he passed away after a long battle with illness. He was born in Minya, Upper Egypt, and his passions were football and acting, and he was actually a member of the Zamalek youth team for a couple of years before he concentrated on acting.
Sherif was an actor and an intellect. He had his political visions, supported causes he believed in and his fame and popularity minimized the amount of prosecution he was subject to.
Nonetheless he paid the price for his positions in different ways. His career started in the theater with small roles. Then after finishing his studies in the Art Academy he started getting roles in movies and moved fast to stardom.
He acted in more than 200 movies among which he embodied the characters of the Nobel-prize-winner Naguib Mahfouz's books with great talent. Sherif chose his roles carefully and believed that art had a message and a duty towards society.
When reading a script for a new project, he added his vision and remarks, in many cases his vision added depth and the papers presented evolved into a deeper movie that lasted in the minds of the audience.
In 1977, he played an important political piece of theater called “A Bachelor Degree in Ruling People”, which lasted for fourteen days before it was banned by security authorities.
The play basically explained the mentality and the psyche of the officers who made Coup d’etats in the third world; a very touchy subject to any ruler who was not elected by the people.
Unlike many movie stars, he never attempted to get close to the rulers. He actively criticized them in his work while defending the values of freedom.
Analyzing Nour’s work is a very hard task. The one movie that made the most controversy in his career was Naji al-Ali.
Nour played the role of the Palestinian caricaturist who invented the character of “Hanzala”, a witness on the corruption of the sell out rulers of the Arab countries and the Palestinians leaders who sold out their beliefs. El Ali was assassinated by the Mossad in London in 1987.
His opposition to the peace negotiation between the Israelis and the Palestinians was strong and popular. He saw these negotiations as surrender and giving up on the Palestinian rights.
Sherif, by choosing this personality to embody on the screen, opened a can of worms by almost all the Arab governments.
The movie was banned from Egypt, since right wing critics unfairly saw that he took a position against the Egyptian government.
The Gulf Countries refused to show Nour’s work for several years after the production of that movie.
Throughout his life, the iconic actor had a clear political position. After he was honored in Alexandria Film Festival a few months before his death, he boldly exposed that the art administration was ruled by security orders.
They dealt with artists depending on how close they were to the ruling power not on their talent.