Mohamed Khan’s Factory Girl wows the crowds at Dubai International Film Festival 2013
DUBAI // The stars of the Arab world were out in force for the gala screening of Mohamed Khan’s Factory Girl on day three of the Dubai International Film Festival.
But it was the legendary director himself everyone waited patiently for.
Considered a pioneer of Egyptian cinema, the 71-year-old put the youngsters to shame as he worked the media on the red carpet at the 10th annual event.
Taking his time to chat to as many television crews and journalists as possible, Khan, best known for films including Darbet Shams in 1978, El Harrif (The Artful) in 1983 and Ayyam El Sadat (Days of Sadat) in 2001, posed for pictures and welcomed guests arriving to see his latest offering.
Khan was joined on the red carpet by his wife and screenwriter Wessam Suleiman, producer Mohammed Samir, actress Yasmine Raes and actor Hany Adel.
One of the few Egyptian and Arab productions to receive financial support from a wide number of international filmmaking entities – seven in total including the Dubai International Film Festival’s Enjaaz Fund and Abu Dhabi Film Festival’s Sanad Fund – Factory Girl enjoyed its “biggest showcase yet” in the UAE, according to the crew.
The usual Egyptian glamour was brought by actors, singers and comedians Dorra, Bushra, the legendary Yousra, Nadia Jundi, Hany Ramzi, Mimi Jamal, Mahmoud Kabeel, Suzanne Najm El Dine and Hadi El Bajouri.
Starring the relatively-unknown Yasmin Raes in the lead, as well as Hany Adel, Salwa Kahttab and Salwa Mohammed Ali, the story follows Hiyam, a young factory worker, living in a lower-middle-class neighbourhood with her co-workers. Under the spell of new supervisor Salah, Hiyam incorrectly begins to believe love can transcend the class differences between them. The film examines the changes that take place in her life as she struggles with her desperate situation.
Just as with Downtown Girls in 2006 and In the Heliopolis Flat a year later, Factory Girl was penned by Khan’s wife.
“I directed a film about a love story through which the heroine fights the idea of social discrimination to free herself,” said Egyptian-Pakistani film director, screenwriter and actor Khan ahead of the world premiere in Dubai.
“For me, it is a new production that can compete on international levels and can be distributed anywhere around the world.”
Khan is a well-known member of the 1980s generation in Egyptian cinema, along with directors such including Khairy Beshara, Daoud Abdel Sayed, Atef El Tayeb, and Yousry Nasrallah.
And although Factory Girl champions independent filmmaking and tells a story which pushes boundaries, Khan also believes it appeals to the box office audience.
Lightening the mood, a now-pregnant Raes recalled Khan’s astonishment after announcing she would cut her hair for the role.
“I didn’t hesitate,” she said. “I’m not going to live forever and it’s only hair. On the contrary, the film will last until the end of time. I decided that if I used a wig I wouldn’t have given my most sincere performance. I knew that touching the feelings of the audience was more important than my hairstyle.”
Cairo-born Khan moved to London in 1958 to study engineering, but ended up at the London School of Film Technique, now the London International Film School.
Influenced by a new wave of world cinema he has gone on to become one of the most prominent directors in Egyptian realism cinema.
Four of his films – Missing Person in 1984, Wife of an Important Person in 1987, Dreams of Hind and Camila in 1988 and Supermarket in 1989 - have all been listed among the top 100 Egyptian films made.
But while the Arab world views Khan as playing an integral role in a pioneering generation of international filmmakers, the director is inspired by another.
“Soad Hosny is my personal love,” he said. “I dedicated this film to her so people would remember the late great actress once more. I used both her songs and voice during her press interviews. Soad Hosny lies in the minds of Egyptian girls and is part of the Egyptian revolution as well.”
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