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Sunday, 20 June 2021

Shooting Egypt's Ramadan television series in the time of coronavirus

With Ramadan approaching, Egyptian production companies that should be at full sprint are forced to take precautions on Covid-19 while attempting to realise their projects

Yasser Moheb, Thursday 26 Mar 2020
Cyrine Abdel-Nour
Actress Cyrine Abdel-Nour wears a protective mask during shooting of the Ramadan television series

A few weeks before the month of Ramadan — the annual peak season of television series and television drama in Egypt — film sets find themselves challenged as never before to meet deadlines.

While no filming in Egypt has been interrupted by authorities to date due to coronavirus, and while no film crew has been denied permission to film, the warning signs are multiplying.

“Some production companies have reduced the number of shooting days, in order to minimise the risk of ending up short as general confinement becomes more necessary. Others are thinking of limiting teams themselves," said Magdi Bakr, chief technician at one studio in Media City.

Some TV series’ shooting schedules stopped at the start of this week, with missing scenes shot once the coronavirus alert has abated.

This is particularly the case of the new TV series We Neheb Tani Leih? (Why Love Again?), which on its poster brings together Yasmine Abdel-Aziz, Sawsan Badr, Sherif Mounir and Karim Fahmi.

After their great success with the TV series Qesmetak we Nasibi (Your Fate and My Destiny), screenwriter Amr Mahmoud Yassine and director Moustapha Fekri have teamed up again for the series.

Nissa Men Dahab (Exemplary Women), bringing together stars Nabila Ebeid, Nadia Al-Guindi and Samiha Ayoub, led by director Wael Ihsan, has faced the same issue. Actors and actresses persist with the shooting, while taking stringent health precautions.

Dina Al-Sherbini, who stars in the series Laebet Al-Nessiane (Oblivion) written by Tamer Habib and directed by Hani Khalifa, attended a small birthday party this week organised by her colleagues and friends on set, without removing her mask or protective gloves.

A similar protocol applies to Lebanese actress Cyrine Abdel-Nour on the set of her new series Lace, as for the young actresses filming the fourth part of the series Hekayat Banat (Stories of Young Girls).

Nelly Karim and Asser Yassine face similar dilemmas as they continue shooting their new television series Al-Nassabine (The Crooks), while Hanane Motawie and Tarek Loutfi are currently filming the last scenes of the series Al-Qahera-Kaboul (Cairo-Kabul), a series directed by Hossam Ali.

"There is no question of endangering the artists and the technicians," underlines Maher Ismail, a production assistant. “We require the wearing of masks and gloves everywhere on the set, except in front of the cameras. Likewise, the filming equipment is cleaned with alcoholic gel and kept as far away as possible, to respect safety measures. All team members understand this very well. It even reassures them. The actors try to wear their masks at all times,” he adds.

This article was first published in Al-Ahram Hebdo, 25 March issue.

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