Egyptian filmmaker Hassan Saleh Wanny was praised by many critics and cinema experts attending the premiere of his first film ‘Miracle of Survival’ at the Ismailia Cultural Palace on Saturday.
“I am honoured to have the premier of my first film at Ismailia Festival in a hall full of experts and professors who taught me a lot,” said the filmmaking graduate of the French University in Cairo during a talk held after the screening.
Co-directed by Wanny’s partner’s Heba Elhoseny, the film was screened as part of the 21st edition of the Ismailia International Film Festival for Documentaries and Shorts, taking place between 10 and 16 April.
“This is one of the best documentaries I have seen recently,” enthusiastically commented Egyptian critic Walid Seif, thanking the filmmaker for his invitation of the festival’s attendees to watch his premier.
The 52-minute film is one of the longest competing in the Short Documentary contest of the festival, which is produced by Alghad TV channel; one of the 21st edition’s media sponsors.
“I know the film seems very newsy, as it was made for that purpose, but I hope I was able to present the topic efficiently,” said Wanny.
The film is an attempt to explore historical, geographical, social and cultural facts about closed excluded communities in Egypt. The film explores the lives of Gypsies, revealing many secrets about their different groups; Hungarania, Nawar, Halab, Salayeb, and others.
“I was sitting in a local café and saw a woman with very different appearance and accessories. I followed her and this led me to discover some things about these mysterious worlds,” said Wanny, who is also the cinematographer and co-editor of the film.
Despite the praise, critic argued that the topic of the film is too rich to be approached horizontally, with many stating that “dozens of films could be made about these societies” and focusing on one aspect or group would make it richer.
Egyptian DOP Said El-Sheimy, who is one of the seven filmmakers honoured at the festival, praised the film but criticised the colouring and the soundtrack mix.
The film was dedicated to late filmmaker Mohamed Hassaan Ashour, an interview with whom took a big part of the film, and Wanny revealed that his death came two weeks after the shooting.
Under the helm of critic Essam Zakariya, lots of different activities are being held at the 21st edition of the festival, attended by dozens of filmmakers and critics from across the globe, with dozens of film competing in the various categories. Many other films are being screened through parallel programs celebrating African, French and Polish cinema in addition to honouring seven filmmakers and screening their work.
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