The film 'Asham' will end Egyptian cinema's summer season this year prior to the month of Ramadan with screenings starting on Wednesday in major cinemas.
The film represents the first feature film for director Magy Morgan as both writer and director, following her direction of several documentary films.
'Asham' follows various intertwining stories of different characters dealing with hope, despair and the meaning of happiness, set against the backdrop of the crazy city they call home: Cairo.
Through the film, the director tries to break through the walls that exist between the city's inhabitants, who rub shoulders daily but who each live in their own bubble, barely knowing their fellow city dwellers.
Shot between Cairo and Alexandria, the film uses a variety of locations – including streets, coffee shops, bars, etc. – which led to some technical issues with sound. In some cases, the production crew was forced to alter filming schedules to avoid disturbing the routines of the places in which they were shooting.
"In Egypt, we often work in spite of the system not because of it," Morgan says in a press release about the film. "The one thing that works for us is the presence in Egypt now of a supportive, independent film scene."
The film also highly depended on rehearsals and improvisation sessions with the actors in advance of shooting in order to create the characters. Even during the shooting there was room for improvisation.
"Improvisation allows a wealth of life experience to find its way into the film," Morgan said, stressing that it was not only her own life experiences that had an impact on the film but also those of the actors.
"As a story about a bus ticket and lucky numbers, an anecdote about soccer and women," she said. "I couldn't have made that up."
Director Mohamed Khan and theatre director Mahmoud El-Lozy take part in the film as actors. The film also features many new faces to commercial cinema, such as actors Amina Khalil, Salma Salem, Seif El-Aswany, Shady Habashy, Marwa Tharwat, Mona El Shimi, Mina El-Naggar, Naglaa Younes, Noha El-Khouly, Hany Eskandar and Hany Seif.
Morgan was looking for certain types of actors who could delve into the moment and represent it on screen, rather that the events portrayed in the film, which, she says, is a "non-events film."
'Asham' has garnered the attention of the jury of the International Oriental Film Festival in Geneva, where it participated in the feature films competition. It was also featured in the Third Tribeca Film Festival in Doha, where it received considerable critical acclaim as a unique film experience for the writer and director.
The film is produced by Film Clinic, the same production company behind Mohamed Abdallah's 'Microphone' and a recent album by the Massar Egabari band. Mohamed Hefzy, director of Film Clinic, has been selected to head the Ismailia Film Festival this month.