August ‘17
Getting a line on the mysterious artistic genius called

August ‘17
Marwan Hamed
Marwan Hamed


    


They say that creative minds are exclusive to Hollywood and European cinema, only a less, full-blown cinema is what you find in other countries. But here is foolproof evidence that reveals what Egyptian cinema is really capable of and it goes beyond creativity. Insight had the pleasure of meeting with one of Egypt’s most creative minds and one of the most talented directors of his generation, Marwan Hamed.

Do you think releasing your latest masterpiece ‘Al Aslyeen’, during the Eid season was a good decision, considering audiences prefer lighter genres?

Actually, when the producer and I looked thought about it, we decided that this was the most suitable season for releasing the movie. If you compare revenues of the Eid season with those of the rest of the whole year, youíll find of course that itís the most profitable season. And as you pointed out  ëAl Alselyeení is not the kind of movie that Egyptian audiences are very familiar with, itís of quite a different nature than what theyíre used to. So while releasing it during Eid, it might not compete highly against the traditional type of film, releasing it in a less energetic season would make it completely non-profitable.


How do you react towards the outgoing debate on ‘Al Alselyeen’, especially those who consider the plot to be quite confusing?

Actually this debate piques my interest, I regard having different opinions about my work, a big advantage. For example I read on social media many contended and discontented reviews and the most interesting thing is that some people had to watch the movie twice to write their review. As for the confusing plot, it was obvious from the start that we were doing something out of the box. Bearing in mind a vital fact that audiences differ, they come from different social and cultural backgrounds, we were expecting these inconsistencies, which frankly I take as a highly positive thing for the movie.


Social media is free access for everyone to express his/her opinion, but they are not professional critics. How do you see this?

Yes, although social media users might not be professional, they are highly qualified to carry out a respectful, objective and thoughtful review. This is privilege of the new century, you are now able to watch any movie online whether itís an American or European or whatever. In short, such healthy atmosphere creates hardcore audiences.


Al Aslyeen’ is listed under the genre that’s called ‘Mind-Blowing’. You can’t watch it eating popcorn on your Lazy-Boy, it requires your full attention. Are these kind of movies welcomed in Egypt?

Itís true that such movies do not fit into the audienceís comfort zone anywhere in the world, not just in Egypt. Itís not a blockbuster movie in which every detail is crystal clear. In point of fact, the audience is authorized to complete the missing part of the plot in order to have its own original interpretation. But still these films nevertheless do have their own fans, particularly younger generations; otherwise we would have found the genre to have completely vanished on an international level.


‘Al Aslyeen’ have been called representatives of State powers, watching ‘subordinates’ to preserve the country’s inner security or ‘Rooh el watan’. What do you think of this interpretation?

Look, presumably we are all living in a huge network of mass surveillance. We are all being watched 24/7, itís a global phenomenon. There are related incidents like the US surveillance incident on European Union states, Snowden. Moreover in England it was stated that every citizen is watched by 3 CCTV cameras, in the streets. To put it in its simplest form we might call it a sign of the times, which ëAl Alaslyeení was inspired by.


You’ve worked with the cinematographer Mohamed el Morsy, scriptwriter Ahmed Morad, composer Hesham Nazih and costume designer Nahed Nasrallah, in almost all your movies….

Indeed, cooperating with a homogenous team is the key to success. Of course skill and talent is the cornerstone, but having crew members who have the same way of thinking or in other words I might call it ëa mind mateí, will get incredible results.


Are we witnessing the development of a new cinematic era that overrides the prevailing amalgam of belly dancers, folk singers and artless, dramatic plots?

Actually, I believe that such movies have recently suffered a severe stroke. It took place from the very beginning due to the critical situation back then. The movie industry after the revolution was obviously unpleasant, most of filmmakers deserted the scene for almost 4 years immediately after revolution. But now thing seem to be developing gradually and the real film-makers are stepping forward again.


By Shaza Elkodsh