Last Update 14:48
Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Artist Shirin Neshat’s ‘Looking For Um Kulthum’ to participate in 74th Venice Film Festival

The film stars award-winning Egyptian actress Yasmine El-Raes

Ahram Online , Monday 31 Jul 2017
looking for kalthoum
Looking for Umm Kulthuum by Shirin Neshat (Photo: Ahram Arabic)
Views: 5371
Views: 5371

Looking For Umm Kulthum, a film by Iranian artist and director Shirin Neshat starring Egyptian actress Yasmine El-Raes, is participating in the 74th Venice Film Festival’s Venice Days competition alongside 11 other titles.

While the film is centred on the iconic Egyptian singer Umm Kulthum, it is not a biopic, according to Variety.

Neshat is quoted by Variety as saying that the film is the “story of an Iranian woman filmmaker, living in exile, who dares to make a film about an iconic Arab singer without being Arab herself… [it is] a very personal story, loosely based on my own experiences and challenges.”

The film was shot in Morocco and Austria, and is a joint production between Germany, Austria, Italy and Morocco.

In 2009, Neshat won the Silver Lion at the festival for her directorial debut Women Without Men.

She has received worldwide acclaim for her poetic films and photographs, which are often subversively themed and probe questions around religion and gender roles in contemporary Iran and the Middle East.

In 2012, she visited Egypt while working on the Umm Kulthum film, and gave a lecture at the American University in Cairo, where she talked about discovering filmmaking after years of working in photography.

During the lecture, Neshat also spoke of how she was inspired by Umm Kulthum’s ability to move people towards spiritual ecstasy and how she was universally loved.

“It is a story that has to be told,” Neshat said in an interview with Ahram Online.

Her frequent visits to Egypt during turbulent times in the aftermath of the 2011 revolution were reflected in her exhibition ‘Our House is on Fire’ at the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation in New York.

Yasmine El-Raes, the star of Looking For Umm Kulthum, is an award winning actress whose role in Factory Girl by late director Mohamed Khan earned her nine awards; a best actress award from the Dubai International Film Festival, best actress from the Malmo Arabic Film Festival in Sweden, among other local and international awards.

She recently appeared in the popular Egyptian film Hepta.

The Venice Film Festival will take place between 30 August and 9 September.

For more arts and culture news and updates, follow Ahram Online Arts and Culture on Twitter at @AhramOnlineArts  and on Facebook at Ahram Online: Arts & Culture 

Short link:


Ahram Online welcomes readers' comments on all issues covered by the site, along with any criticisms and/or corrections. Readers are asked to limit their feedback to a maximum of 1000 characters (roughly 200 words). All comments/criticisms will, however, be subject to the following code
  • We will not publish comments which contain rude or abusive language, libelous statements, slander and personal attacks against any person/s.
  • We will not publish comments which contain racist remarks or any kind of racial or religious incitement against any group of people, in Egypt or outside it.
  • We welcome criticism of our reports and articles but we will not publish personal attacks, slander or fabrications directed against our reporters and contributing writers.
  • We reserve the right to correct, when at all possible, obvious errors in spelling and grammar. However, due to time and staffing constraints such corrections will not be made across the board or on a regular basis.

© 2010 Ahram Online.