Equal Partners
by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners

By Roland Ezri

"Women are the backbone of all societies. They do a substantial part of the work, and play a major role in raising the future generation yet they are largely powerless. The decisions that count are made by men and foisted upon women."

Writings by Roland Ezri

The Second Exodus – Egypt – LXXXIV. My Years at 12A rue Khantaret Ghamra – Entertainment (10 of 30)

Faten Hamama

Faten (attractive) Hamama (pigeon) was endowed with great beauty, an extraordinary acting talent, and natural grace. If Hollywood had Grace Kelly, we had Faten Hamama. She illuminated the screen by her mere presence; the characters she portrayed were not easily forgotten.

She was born in El Mansoura in 1931. Her dad, Ahmed Hamama, took her to a movie at the age of 6; after the movie the two made a secret pact! Little Faten felt that the audience were applauding for her, and Ahmed promised that he would do everything in his power to make her dream come true.

After winning a contest for the most beautiful child in Egypt, her father send her picture to Mohammed Karim (pioneer of Egyptian cinema). Providence was on her side as Karim was looking for a child for a film with Mohammed Abdel Wahab. The script for the film Yom Said (A Happy Day) was expanded to give her character a bigger role. Again, with Abdel Wahab, she acted in Russassa Fel Alb (A Bullet In The Heart). With her third movie, in 1946, Dunia (A World) Faten was ready for bigger roles.

In 1946, her family moved to Cairo to support her in her career. In the same year, she also started her studies in the High Institute of Acting.

Space does not permit me to talk about all her successful movies; it would not be a stretch to say that they were all well- received. She often acted in dramatic movies, but she also has to her credit many comedies. Who can forget her movie Seit El Beit (The Lady Of The House), the hilarious tribulations of a young married woman pitted against an intractable mother-in-law. Her astonishing role in the comedy El Ustaza Fatma (Mistress Fatma), where she portrays a lawyer, created a (fictional) Fatma who remains unforgettable to this day.

In 1952, El Manzel Rakam Talatashar (The House No. 13) introduced to Egyptian audiences the first mystery film.

In 1959, her movie Doa El Karawan (The Nightingale Prayer) was nominated in the Berlin’s International Festival, and almost made it to the Oscars.

In 1961, together with Omar Sharif, she starred in a classic, Nahr El Hob (The River Of Love), the remake of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina.

In 1964, her feature El Laila El Akhira (The Last Night) captured 10 awards, and was also presented at the Cannes Festival.

Finally, in 1975, she single-handedly changed the marriage and divorce law when she acted in Orid Hallan (Needs A Solution).

She acted in more than 40 movies.

In 1947, she married director Ezzel Dine Zulficar; they divorced in 1953. They had one child. In 1954, she married Omar Sharif, they divorced in 1974. Again, the marriage was blessed with one child only.

Faten used her position to change many of the injustices besetting Egyptian society. She insisted that her films add values and impact society through family relationships. Such topics as marriage and divorce, the single mother, and vendetta were addressed.

She left Egypt in 1966 for Lebanon and the U.K. because she refused some political pressure applied on actresses. Gamal, through other parties, requested her return. She came back in 1971; by then Gamal Abdel Nasser had passed away (he died in 1970).

Faten Hamama is now in her late seventies; not as old as the pyramids, but still referred to as the Fourth Pyramid in the world of the Egyptian cinema.

I close by saying that her movie with Youssef Wahbi, Korsi El E’teraf (The Chair Of Confession) is one of the greatest films I have ever attended.

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