“Youm lel Setat” poster - Egypt Today.
CAIRO – 16 April 2018: Three Egyptian films and an Algerian-Tunisian-Egyptian film will participate in the International Oriental Film Festival of Geneva, scheduled to run from April 21-29. The four films are “Youm lel Setat” (A Day For Women), “El Ma’aa w el Khodra w El Wageh el Hassan” (Brooks, Meadows and Lovely Faces), the Algerian -Tunisian- Egyptian film “Augustine Ebn Demoaha” (Augustine: Son of her Tears) and the biography-documentary “Jeanne d’Arc Masriya” (the Egyptian Joan of Arc).
“Youm lel Setat”
The story of the movie takes place in one of the underprivileged Egyptian districts, where the three main heroines of the movie, Azza, Shaimaa and Laila, live. One day, a new swimming pool opens in their neighborhood with a day designated for women only; Sundays.
The first Sunday witnessed the gathering of all the women in the area who come from diverse backgrounds. Azza has long dreamed of wearing swimsuits, Shaimaa finally finds someone who listens to her when she talks about her private life and Laila tries to overcome her grief over her late son.
The movie stars Elham Shaheen, Nelly Karim, Ahmed al-Fishawy, Mahmoud Hemeida, Eyad Nassar, Nahed al-Sebaie, Hala Sedky and Ahmed Dawoud. “Youm lel Setat” is written by Hanaa Attia and directed by Kamla Abou Zekri.
The movie screened at the 11th edition of the Gli Occhi dell’Africa in Pordenone, Italy, on November 14, 2017, and was included in a program dedicated to presenting the best African movies to Italian audiences.
"Youm lel Setat" won the Best Feature Movie Award at the 37th Verona International Film Festival; it also won four awards at six international film festivals in October 2017.
Moreover, "Youm lel Setat" won the Best Movie Award at the Arab Film Festival in Rotterdam, and the movie’s heroine, Elham Shaheen, was honored for her artistic career.
In addition, the movie previously won the Best Film Award at the 20th Khouribga African Film Festival in Morocco, and was granted the award in the closing ceremony of the festival, which took place on September 16, 2017.
It is also worth mentioning that Shaheen shared the Best Actress Award with Karim at the 13th Kazan International Muslim Film Festival in Russia for their roles in the movie on September 11, 2017. “Youm lel Setat” was the only Egyptian movie participating in the festival.
“El Ma’aa w el Khodra w El Wageh el Hassan”
The film narrates the story of a family whose members work as wedding caterers. It highlights the life of three cooks, whose roles are played by Layla Elwi, Menna Shalabi and Bassem Samra. The film was co-written by Ahmad Abdalla and Yousri Nasrallah and directed by Nasrallah.
“Augstine Ebn Demoaha"
“Augstine Ebn Demoaha” revolves around the historical character of Augustine and his impact on the western world, specifically on the Roman society. The film presents the life of religious philosopher and professor Augustine.
His mother, Monica, succeeded in saving her son from committing the sin of embracing extremist doctrines, which was not easy for his mother at the beginning. Monica continued praying and crying until Augustine returned to the faith. The movie is written by scriptwriter Sameh Samy.
The Tunisian-Algerian film “Augstine Ebn Demoaha” (Augustine: Son of her Tears) by veteran Egyptian director Samir Seif won the Artistic Achievement award for Mediterranean countries from the Alexandria International Film Festival. Seif received the award from Helmy Namnam, the Egyptian minister of culture and the great cinema critic and head of the festival Amir Abaza.
“Jeanne d’Arc Masriya” (the Egyptian Joan of Arc)
“Jeanne d’Arc Masriya” discusses the experiences of Egyptian women following the January 2011 revolution through their defiant art forms. In the film, director Iman Kamel finds the diary of a fictional young Bedouin girl named Jehanne in the western deserts of Egypt. In the diary, Jehanne writes of wanting to break free from the restrictions of a male-dominated world and becoming a dancer. Kamel sets out to find Jehanne by connecting with seven other female Egyptian artists.
Joan of Arc, the famous and iconic historical figure, was a young peasant French girl who rose in the ranks of the French army and fought against the English, managing to reach significant victories in the "Hundred Years War". She claimed to have been receiving visions of Christian saints showing her the path to justice and victory. She was eventually captured by the English and executed by public burning based on different criminal charges, including heresy and cross-dressing. Joan of Arc was later pronounced a martyr and a saint.
“Jeanne d’Arc Masriya” compares elements of the historical Joan of Arc’s struggle against the state and patriarchal nature of Europe with Egyptian women’s plight as artists. Kamel was inspired by the 1929 silent film “The Passion of Joan of Arc”, directed by Theodor Dreyer. In a 2016 interview, Kamel explained that her inspiration drew from Dreyer’s focus on specific aspects of Joan of Arc’s character through her time in prison, “where she was questioning herself and her visions, and was attacked by patriarchs.”
Through meetings with the seven artists, the film explores issues that surround Egyptian women and their art after the revolution through themes such as guilt and state repression. Artists featured in the film include Nahla Sebaie, a jewelry maker; Salma el-Tarzi, a cartoon animator; and Dina el-Wedidi, a musician.
The film is a combination of poetry and narration, mythical and fantastical elements and stories, dance and performance, and documentary footage. It explores the different kinds of art created by Egyptian women after the January 2011 revolution from the lens of political and social resistance, as well as hope and aspirations for the future.
“Egyptian Jeanne d’Arc” screened at the 2016 Dubai International Film Festival as well as various other festivals. Iman Kamel has won an award and earned nominations for her previous work “Beit Sha’ar” (Nomad’s House), which is also a documentary that deals with the struggles and experiences of two Bedouin women in Egypt.
“Jeanne d’Arc Masriya” was selected by China Women's Film Festival (CWFF) to participate in its fifth CWFF Tour. The tour started on March 31, and will continue until July 22, travelling through 10 cities in Southern, Central and Northern China, and Hong Kong.
"Jeanne d’Arc Masriya" has been selected alongside 13 other films, out of a total of 600 films from all over the world, to compete within the festival's Independent Film Competition. The screenings will take place in Fuzhou, Quanzhou, Jinan, Taiyuan, Chengdu, Tianjin, Shenyang, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, and Kunming. “Jeanne d’Arc Masriya” was screened at the Cairo Institute for Liberal Arts and Sciences in Darb al-Ahmar on January 16.