This year, Cairo International Film festival honoured one of Egyptian cinema's great beauties, Nadia Lutfi (born 1937), by using her image on its official poster.
Her talent was discovered by renowned director Ramsis Naguib. In 1958 she played her first role, in a film titled Soultan. Her second small role was in the big hit Bab El-Hadid (Train Station, 1958) directed by Youssef Chahine.
The 1960s marked the bloom of her acting career as she starred in memorable and iconic classics side by side with screen legends of that time such as Abdel-Halim Hafez in Al-Khataya (Sins, 1962), as well as Abi Fouq Al-Shagara (My Dad Atop a Tree, 1969) from which the poster photo was adapted, as Zanouba in Qasr el-Shouk, staring Yehia Shahine (El-Shouk Palace) in 1967.
Lutfi is also known for her lead role in a film Al-Nadara Al Sawda (Dark Glasses,1963) starring Ahmed Mazhar.
On the right, film poster of Only For Men 1964 starring Nadia Lutfi and Souad Hosni (Photo: Al-Ahram Archives)
Below is a translation of parts of an interview with her by renowned writer and director Youssef Francis, which was published in Al-Ahram newspaper in 1975.
Black and white
“Nobody is entirely good or bad it’s a mixture of both with a different percentage. When I play a wicked character, I do not judge, I just try to understand so I can reflect this character’s perspective.”
Preparing for the role
“It takes me a long time to prepare and put my audience into consideration. When I stand in front of the camera I turn into the character I am playing."
On the right, Nadia Lutfi with renowned singer Abdel-Halim Hafez during the shoot of El-Khataya 1962 (Photo: Al-Ahram Archives)
The camera and I
“Long friendship that made me transform into the lens itself for we broke all the barriers between us to view each other with clarity and serenity. It’s a two-way friendship for both of us view our audience in one another.”
“Getting out of myself and into the people.”
“Like a first date, love date, I want to see my success through the eyes of the audience.”
On the left a still photo from Nadia Lotfi's The Black Sunglasses 1963 (Photo: Al-Ahram Archives)
Artist and human being
“No difference, they are both Nadia.”
“I read history books because they teach us how life repeats itself. It develops and deteriorates and is in a constant state of movement. It looks different but the essence is all the same.”
Nadia Lutfi (centre), Kamal El-Shennawy (right) (Photo: Al-Ahram Archives)
I love to...
Nadia Lutfi (Photo: Al-Ahram Archives)
“Unintentional wrong doing.”
I never forgive...
“A mere stop in a long journey called life.”
“By the sea for it’s the warmest hug and refuge from all troubles.”
“The proverb says there are exceptions to every rule, so I wish such exceptions would dominate our society and hence it would change.”
“Our society would develop and by default develop our cinema with it because at the end of the day the cinema is the reflection of our society.”
On the left a still photo of Nadia Lutfi and Yahia Shahin from Naguib Mahfouz's Asr El-Shouk 1966, On the right the 1969 film poster of Abi Fawk Al-Shaggara starring Nadia Lutfi and Abdel-Halim Hafez (Photo: Al-Ahram Archives)
“A big question.”
A man from history I wish to meet
“Julius Caesar because he is quite unique.”
Nadia Lutfi with Palestinian leaders Yasser Arafat and Sakhr Habash during the Beirut siege in 1982
(Photo: Al-Ahram Archives)
“You cannot change time.”
Nadia Lutfi and actor Youssef Wahbi (Photo: Al-Ahram Archives)
“Michelangelo Antonioni because he has this philosophical aspect and also Vittorio De Sica because he has this human angel.”
Nadia Lutfi (Photo: Al-Ahram Archives)
Success in acting
“Having a great idea and a genuine feeling.”
Dawn because it’s a moment of birth.
From right to left Ezzat El-Alaily, Leila Elwi, Nadia Lutfi, Elham Shahin (Photo: Al-Ahram Archives)
Compiled by Amira El Noshokaty
All Data Courtesy of Al-Ahram Organisation and Information Technology Centre (Microfilm)
-All Photos courtesy of Al-Ahram digital archive