DIFF Daily 2010

‘Anyone who dares to be different becomes annoying to others’

Dec 14,2010 - 12:19 PM

Marianne Khoury is the Cairo-based filmmaker, who with Mustapha Hasnaoui, directed ‘Zelal’, a stark and poignant account of life in two Cairo mental homes. A long-term collaborator of Youssef Chahine’s, Khoury’s film is a small masterpiece of contemporary Egyptian social observation.

‘Zelal’ is a film that goes beyond the documentation of those suffering mental illnesses, it’s a critique of Egyptian society at large. Would you agree?

This film is about ordinary human beings. There is a very fine line between madness and sanity, and anyone who dares to be different becomes annoying to others. While this film portrays Egyptian society in particular, it also depicts society and people in general, because we noticed that cases like these exist all over the world, people and stories are alike everywhere.

There is a resemblance between the character of Yusef in the film and Youssef Chahine in terms of sharpness and acuteness in condemning, and the spiritual vigor.
Youssef Chahine is the one who introduced me to madness, but the positive kind. You need to be a bit crazy, a bit rebellious, in order to deliver a certain message and be able to connect with people. Youssef in the film is very liberal in his way of thinking, very intelligent and is able to recite both the Bible and Quran. He is very spiritual just like Youssef Chahine, who had a very special relation with God.

This is your third film as a director – is this a role you hope to develop in the future?
Being a director is not the only thing that matters, but rather my work as a cinematographer. I can be a director, but also support other people who desire to talk about something or say something, and help them through my experience in film production.

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