File - Hend Sabry while receiving her award at El Gouna Film Festival.
CAIRO – 28 September 2019: Famed Tunisian Egyptian star Hend Sabry won El Gouna Star for the Best Actress Award on her dazzling performance in Helm Noura ( Noura’s Dream) movie. The film was participating in the feature film competition at the third edition of El Gouna Film Festival.
The film participated in San Sebastian International Film Festival and also screened for the first time at the Toronto International Film Festival’s Exploration Section.
The heartthrob actress chatted with Egypt Today about Noura’s Dream movie and participation in El Gouna Film Festival.
1- Tell us more about Noura’s dream movie?
Noura’s dream is a movie that houses special perception of its writer and director, it is not a commercial movie, this is common more in the Tunisian cinema because it depends more on artistic quality. I was raised up in this community, all the Tunisian movies I previously participated in were based on the artistic factors more than the commercial ones. The preparation to such movies is completely different because it is more like performing a handmade piece of art. I am so proud that I usually perform massive movies in Egypt like ‘’The Blue Elephant’’ which is like a big factory unlike Noura’s dream, one of the good characteristics in any artist is the ability to do both and doesn’t limit himself/herself to a certain kind, and this year I am happy that I transferred from the big factory of The Blue Elephant to the handmade piece which is Noura’s Dream. I think this is a message to my colleagues and filmmakers that yes we can do both, not always to say that I want to work on commercial movies only because it went viral, the other kind also enriches the cinema, also participating in a massive movie who will be seen pan Arab doesn’t mean that you don’t participate in independent movie especially if you strongly believe in it. We as Arab actors must be part of all the Arab cinems whrther in Tunisia, Morocco, Lebanon, we should work in all the Arab countries.
2- What was the European audience feedback about the film as it was screened at a number of prominent international festivals like Festival de San Sebastian and Toronto International Film Festival?
The story of the movie is a global one, that lies between the extreme local storyline because it touches the whole Tunisian society specially the social level that Noura is part of and at the same time is global because it tackled a story that can happen in any country in the world, in all the societies and the social levels, so Noura’s Dream is both so local and so universal. When it was screened in Toronto International Film Festival people were shocked, they weren’t accustomed with such kind of movies to come from Arab countries, people were dazzled by the movie at Festival de San Sebastian, they stood up and applauded for about 10 minutes.
3- You weren’t afraid performing such a bold character ?
I don’t fear from any role ( she laughs), because I see that the cinema role is to raise questions about issues that sometimes we don’t prefer to talk about in our societies, what I liked in this movie is that it tackled things related to law and moral sides where all the characters are grey, no one is ideal, each one of them has problems related to dealing with his reality even Noura, she is not ideal at all, everyone can see her the way he/she wants whether guilty or victim, even her husband Gamal some will sympathise with him others will see him as a criminal. For me this grey area is the place where cinema can tackle because nobody is perfect.
4- Do you think that Noura character perplexed the audience so they don’t know whether to sympathy with her or to find her guilty?
Everyone will judge based on his own perception, life and personal circumstances, at the same time all you can say that all the characters aren’t purely good or purely bad, they are all grey as I told you, this is something I truly respect in a script, because in most cases we tend to show the main hero or heroine of the movie as ideal people. The screening of the movie in El Gouna Film Festival was important to me because people in Toronto don’t know Hend Sabry unlike here so I wanted to see the feedback of the audience here when they see the star or the actress they know and familiar with doing a character who may not be appealing to them, I can’t do all the time ideal characters, plus I usually don’t judge morally on any character.
5- Despite the main idea of the film is bold there wasn’t any sexual scenes, did you interfere to make this equation?
This was the choice of the movie director Hinde Boujemaa, all the film characters are moving on a tiny line between being good and bad, Noura for example is a liar, she lied a lot to cover her position and she is full of contradictions, but every one of them has his/her own excuse for his/her actions. Also the strength of some of the film scenes lies in that they are out of frame, people have to use their imagination to imagine what is happening.
6- Are you from the actors who get influenced with the character they are performing?
First I was like as soon as I finished shooting I got out of the character but this year is different, I was influenced much with my role in The Blue Elephant part 2 movie. I started shooting The Blue Elephant part 2 directly after I finished shooting Noura’s Dream. While shooting Noura’s dream I was forced to dye my hair as you saw in the movie so I hated my look much at that time to the extent that I wasn’t able to go out with this hair colour so I was almost in a complete isolation then I started shooting The Blue Elephant. This year I performed two strong totally different characters in The Blue Elephant and Noura’s dream so I consider myself lucky because both were released the same year reflecting the meaning of diversity, proving that I am an actress who can play different roles. I am happy that this year I made strong comebacks to the massive production movies with The Blue Elephant and the independent movies with Noura’s dream.
7- What is the importance of festivals to the cinema industry?
Noura’s Dream movie came out because of El Gouna Film Festival. Two years ago Hinde Boujemaa applied with her script in CineGouna platform here in GFF to take fund for her script and said that she want to cooperate with me, she called me later to do casting for the role, I told her I have never done casting, she said I have to because it is a difficult role, for her being a star or not wasn’t an issue, frankly speaking at the beginning my ego was pushing me to refuse, but at the end I said why not, so I travelled to Tunisia to do casting for the movie like any uprising actress, at the end she has a certain perspective and maybe I am not suitable for Noura’s character, so the matter is not about that she wasn’t sure from my acting capabilities. Last year here in El Gouna Film Festival I made the agreement with the producer to start shooting the movie, I am narrating this story because some people say what the benefit from festivals is? Because during these festivals important projects are born, CineGouna platform is very important, Cairo International Film Festival’s workshops are vital, in general festivals are the kitchen where movies are being cooked.
8- To what extent you support the independent movies?
We as filmmakers should support the independent movies whether we work in it or not because they represent a type of cinema that should exist, because the core of cinema is the independent one.
9- Do you think that independent cinema now has larger audience than before?
If you compared it to the popularity of the massive production movies and the commercial films you will find huge gap but yet I am optimistic because of the new platforms like Netflix as they started to pay more attention to the independent cinema ,they can’t produce only commercial movies because there are some who want to watch independent movies.