Egyptian actor Ahmed Malek has gained attention for his role in 'The Furnace', an Australian film that premiered on Friday during the Orizzonti section of the 77th Venice International Film Festival.
At a full-house hall, the screening of the film, directed by Roderick MacKay, received a standing ovation followed by many positive critical reviews from various prestigious papers and magazines from many countries.
The Furnace explores a forgotten aspect of the 19th century west Australian gold rush, when Muslim and Sikh camel handlers from India, Afghanistan and Persia – Iran's former name – were brought in by the British colonisers to help open up the Outback, many essentially working as indentured laborers.
The Furnace follows the story of a young Afghan cameleer played by Malek, who is led away from his friendship with local Aboriginal people by a shifty gold prospector.
"It's shining a light on a little-known chapter of our history and representing community groups who have not really been represented in Australia's history,'' the 33-year-old director told The Associated Press after the screening.
The Furnace is Malek's first appearance in an international production.
Malek is best known for his role as the young Hassan El-Banna in the series The Brotherhood, as well as Ahmed in the series With Premeditation, and teenage womaniser Adham in the TV series Hayat’s Tale, for which he received recognition from Middle Eastern audiences.
His latest films include Ras El-Sana by director Mohamed Sakr and screenwriter Mohamed Hefzy, which is currently available on shahid.net, and The Guest (2019) and Gunshot (2018).
In 2013, Malek won a DG Award for Best Young Actor for his performance as Ahmed in With Premeditation.
In its 2018 edition, the Berlin International Film Festival announced Malek among its Berlinale Talents.
The Venice International Film Festival is taking place between 2 and 12 September.
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