File - Egyptian Jeanne d'Arc poster
CAIRO - 3 December 2019: Egyptian movie "Egyptian Jeanne d'Arc" is set to screen at the 27th African Diaspora International Film Festival (ADIFF) in New York that kicked off on November 29 and will continue until December 5.
The film will screen on December 2, 3, and the screening will be followed by a panel discussion titled "Egyptian Cinema Today" between the film director Iman Kamel and the audience.
Directed by Egyptian director Iman Kamel, "Jeanne d’Arc Masriya” discusses the experiences of Egyptian women following the January 2011 revolution through their defiant art forms. In the film, Kamel is shown to find 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 of the restricting male-dominated world and to become 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.
The movie 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 with ScreenDaily, 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 vision, and was attacked by patriarchs."
Through meetings with the seven artists, the film explores issues that surround post-revolution Egyptian women and their art, 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, stories, dance, 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.
"Jeanne d’Arc Masriya” (The 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.