Written by: Christina Vestey
There are subjects or ideas we cannot talk about here in Egypt, like women’s rights. You will not be able to talk about relationships and politics. Getting your point of view out to the public in Egypt is challenging.
I studied filmmaking, and I am an independent filmmaker. I like to do documentary films, whatever the genre of the film.
We don’t have the opportunity to screen our films. You will get the chance if you have relatives or a friend who is of higher authority. But, if you don’t, you will never get the opportunity. So you take another track to become known in filmmaking in feature or short movies. As independent filmmakers, we submit our films to festivals and organisations outside Egypt, like The Berlin Film Festival or Sundance.
In my films, I focus on what people are like on the inside. I ignore the outside. I like to focus on their humanity. I want to explore their inner attitude, their feelings and thoughts, and what life means to them. Sometimes I see people are so empty inside, like a machine. I see people with something good inside, yet they are afraid. They fear what their community might think and what people will say.
Living in a country where you cannot speak up makes me feel like I need to emigrate and live anywhere. It’s not about the country. It’s about the people and the government because they are very conservative, and our government does not allow people to think. The government is fearful of what people think. People are afraid. When I communicate with anybody here, I hear them say it’s okay, it’s good. I don’t debate with anybody.
I don’t need to be like them. I need to be someone simple, someone unique, someone different. I need to be good with other people. I need to have humanity inside me and humanity in my attitude, humanity in my mind, my heart, and my soul.
When I sit with my friends, we talk about God, and we talk about relationships. We talk about life, humanity, and all different topics. We question our existence. and sometimes we don’t have any answers. Actually, we never get a result or the answer to this question. We have flexibility in our discussions, and we do not judge.
In Egypt, women who are genuinely feminists face a lot of problems. Walking in the street, they experience harassment and in the workplace, in transportation. They are trying to survive. It’s not only here in Egypt, but I think it happens everywhere in the world.
We have young women who just need to marry, but we also have young women who need to work, learn, and get a degree, and that’s good, but they face many problems with their families and community. I know some women who travel and emigrate if they are not married. If a woman is single, an adult and her family allow it, she can travel. Sometimes married women can travel if their husband accepts it. If he’s not accepting, she’ll never travel. A husband can have so much influence.
When I was at school, from five to seventeen years old, boys and girls were the same. The boys were my friends, and they were like my brothers. It’s at university, and when one starts to work that things change. I have seen a lot of men taking the upper hand. I understand men are men, but it’s only a different gender; ultimately, we are all human. This life’s so temporary. We can enjoy success in this life, but we must see our humanity. For me, film is such a great way to connect to people. To show a different perspective and act as a trigger for people to question that perhaps there is another way.