What qualities do you think a good director should have?
Be honest to himself, believe in what he’s doing and have a true social awareness of justice. All of which can clearly be reflected in his works.
Has any of your movies fallen short of your expectations?
Out of 24 films, some obviously have fallen short of my expectations and some have risen above my expectations! I find some are re-discovered or re-appreciated and that is of great comfort, knowing that some of my films will live on and not many are compromised.
Looking back at your huge resume, do you feel there’s something that you’ve never done before?
Of course, there are so many things I’ve never done before and want to do. Some of them are shelved projects that I need to bring to life and I do plan to.
Talk to us about the incident of Muscat International Film Festival.
I have no qualms about a festival turning down my film but in this incident it was turned down in a rude manner, and I would like to point out that it was Muscat who invited the film in the first place. What the festival insist on denying is the existence of a state censorship in their wings, and that’s what really bothered me about it, not that the film was turned down.
What’s the importance of having your movies shown/ nominated in different film festivals?
I see festivals as windows to the outside world, hoping through them to find new audiences but I don’t tailor films for festivals, I make them first for local audiences, they matter most. But film festivals are definitely great publicity.
When do story ideas usually hit you?
All the time! On witnessing little incidents and watching people. It starts with a seed of an idea that grows into plot, then can be made into a film.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve done making a movie?
I am adventurous by nature and being crazy is part of the job of being a director! You have to experiment and try new things and new concepts in order to come up with something original. So I don’t really think I’ve done anything completely unusual, as this usually comes with the package of being a director!
Are you optimistic about the future of cinema?
Most definitely! Our cinema has a long history. It’s a great industry that will always surprise us with great talents.
You tend to go against the flow by highlighting the struggles of the modern Egyptian woman… what do you aim to deliver through this?
I think “struggles” is not quite the right description but I would rather use the word “state”... meaning the state of different women in different films in our society, underlining their position rather than judging it or changing it. They do not necessarily have to go through specific struggles, but there are certain common Egyptian states I like to portray in my films.
What were the factors you based your character-choices upon?
Based on numerous discussions that I have had with Ghada, the five main characters in the film emerged after long conversations of mutual ideas.
What did Ghada Shahbandar add to the whole project by writing the script?
Ghada is a very good friend and a social activist and she also belongs to the upper middle class all of that, I thought, would have really helped the script I had in mind so I thought of encouraging her to write a script using her insight into this class, and that’s exactly what she did and we weren’t disappointed!
Before The Summer Crowds is witnessed as a light spring breeze among your movies… what was your source of inspiration behind it?
When my wife and I spent a short vacation out of season in a sea resort and discovered that we were the only occupants in the resort, this really inspired me first as a location and second as means to confine a number of characters in one serene place as such.
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