DIFF 2009 honours Egyptian movie legend Faten Hamama with Lifetime Achievement Award

Sun Nov 29,2009

If one individual can be credited with altering the biases of the Egyptian film industry towards women that has to be Faten Hamama. And she is being honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award at Dubai International Film Festival 2009.

An accomplished Egyptian producer and actress, 77-year-old Faten Hamama is credited with several evocative performances cutting across genres – from melodrama to historicals and comedy. Her forte was breezy romances, although in real life, she blazed a trail by challenging set notions.

DIFF Chairman Abdulhamid Juma said the Lifetime Achievement Award for Faten Hamama, is a milestone for DIFF too, as she becomes the first ever woman recipient of the honour in the festival’s six-year history.

“Arab film lovers will forever recall the powerful performances of Ms Faten Hamama, who has been associated with some of the all-time great movies in Egyptian cinema. She endeared herself to audiences during a time when only singers, dancers or theatre professionals were offered acting opportunities, that too in nominal, poorly written roles. It is our privilege to honour such a distinguished artist and human being at DIFF,” he added.

Hannah Fisher, Coordinator, Lifetime Achievement Awards, said that Faten Hamama is a true icon of Egyptian and Middle Eastern cinema. “She highlighted the importance of women in cinema, especially in the Egyptian society, breaking several taboos in the process.”

Debuting in the film Yawm Said (Happy Day), when she was only seven years old, Hamama has acted in about 100 movies culminating with Ard Al Ahlam (Land of Dreams) in 1993. In 2000, she returned from a self-imposed acting hiatus for the television mini-series Wajh Al Qamar (Face of the Moon). She was chosen as the Star of the Century by the Egyptian Writers and Critics Organisation.

Her most powerful role, critics say, is that of a young woman who seeks revenge on her uncle for killing her sister in the 1959-film Dua’e Al-Karawan (The Nightingale’s Prayer), which is regarded, even today, as one of the finest Egyptian productions. She also awed critics and audiences with her role in Nahr Hob (Love River), an adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina.

Hamama has won several awards during her illustrious career from the Egyptian Government as well as a special award for her roles in Al Kheit Al Rafee (The Thin Thread) and Afwah Wa Araneb (Mouths and Rabbits) at the first Tehran International Film Festival in 1972 and 1977, respectively. She is the recipient of a Special Award for the film Empire M at Moscow International Film Festival.

Hamama was honoured with the Best Actress Award at Carthage International Film Festival in Tunisia for her role in Yawm Mur Yawm Hilw (Bitter Days, Nice Days) in 1988, and won the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Montpelier Mediterranean Film Festival in 1993.

Hamama thanked the people of the Gulf region, the UAE and everyone associated with DIFF for the Award. She joins Amitabh Bachchan, the Indian cinema legend, in DIFF Honourees this year. The Lifetime Achievement Awards will be presented during DIFF.

Now in its sixth year, DIFF 2009 is held in association with Dubai Studio City and will be held from December 9 to 16. Dubai Duty Free, Dubai Pearl, Emirates Airline and Madinat Jumeirah are the principal sponsors of DIFF and the event is supported by Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture). For more information on the festival, please visit

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