An Egyptian film festival captures the social turmoil in its country

How do you handle sexual deprivation, a psychiatrist asks Hanan a 30-year-old single Arabic woman, in the film Benteen Men Misr (Egyptian Maidens). Hanan responds by saying, it is the emotional deprivation that is harder. The film, directed by Mohammed Amin, deals with the uncertainties and fears faced by women such as Hanan. It was screened at the Egyptian film festival organised by the Coimbatore chapter of Indo Cine Appreciation Foundation (ICAF) at PSG Institute of Management in association with the Embassy of Egypt. The objective is to introduce the audience to the culture of various countries and expose them to techniques in film making.

Hanan and her cousin Dalia the lead characters in Egyptian Maidens represent a multitude of independent women in Egypt, who face the same problem of finding a husband in a male dominated society. The women are financially independent, stay true to their religious roots, yet find themselves lonely and uncared for. They pine for a steady relationship. There is also clash of the traditional views on marriage, and what they look for in a relationship.

Political unrest

Dalia’s Internet friend, Damal, cares for her, but is not ready to take the plunge into matrimony. The other issues in the movie deal with the political unrest and unemployment. Dalia’s unemployed brother Amr becomes a recluse and remains confined to his home. A number of youngsters face a bleak future, and some of them emigrate in search of a better life. Amidst all the turmoil and uncertainties, women like Hanan and Dalia, still believe that marriage is a ticket to freedom. They feel marginalised when they are single. The film ends on this note and leaves the space open for debates and discussions on the issue.

More films

“Every month we have a screening and want to expose the visual communication students from different colleges to films such as these, says E. Thangaraj, general secretary of ICAF. “The strength of these films lies in the storyline. Most regional films follow the path of comedy, dance and fight sequences, with very little focus on the content. Such films help students to learn more about the techniques of film making, and scripting,” he adds.

ICAF plans to screen films from The Netherlands, Cuba, Romania, Poland, Brazil and Singapore and Mongolia. “We have these festivals lined up for Chennai and we will bring them to Coimbatore too,” he says.

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