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Menna Shalaby says playing disturbed characters has sometimes led to therapy

During her honoring at the 41st Cairo International Film Festival, the Egyptian multi-award-winning actress spoke about playing complicated characters

Ahram Online , Sunday 24 Nov 2019
Menna Shalaby

Egyptian actress Menna Shalaby has revealed that playing emotionally disturbed characters has sometimes forced her to see psychologists.

“Sometimes you get to play a character that was raped, hurt, or witnessed a shock, and this affects you eventually. I personally overcome this pressure by intensifying training and rehearsals, or seeking professional help to decompress after playing difficult roles,” the 37-year-old multi-award winner revealed on Friday during a master-class moderated by American film critic Jay Weissberg and attended by many known actors, filmmakers and critics.

The talk was held amid the various activities of the 41st Cairo International Film Festival (CIFF), running between 20 and 29 November, in which Shalaby has been awarded the Faten Hamama Honorary Award.

Menna Shalaby
American film critic Jay Weissberg interviews Egyptian actress Menna Shalaby amid his honoring at CIFF41

Dedicating the award to her mother, Shalaby praised all the important directors she has collaborated with, including Radwan Al-Kashif, Mohamed Khan, and Osama Fawzy, Youssef Chahine, Hala Khalil, Kamla Abu Zekry, Maha Abu Ouf, Yousry Nasrallah and others, recounting memories of working with some of them.

'Women write better about women'

The jury member of a few film festivals, Shalaby praised her experiences working with female directors and scriptwriters, saying that "women write better about women."

“Art has no gender, but women have little bit of an edge when writing about women. My experience with women filmmakers in Hala Khalil’s The Best of Times and Nawara was great because, as women, they knew how to write about women in terms of feelings and reactions,” said Shalaby, though she did also praise some female characters written by men, mentioning her role in 'About Love and Passion', written by Tamer Habib, as an example

Menna Shalaby
Tens of filmmakers, actors, critics were among the crowd attended the master-class of Menna Shalaby

Shalaby began her career in 2001 with the television series 'Morning and Evening Talk,' based on a story by Nobel laureate Naguib Mahfouz. Her silver screen debut was also in 2001 when she got a role in the late Radwan Al-Kashef’s 'The Magician.'

Ever since, Shalaby has worked with many renowned Egyptian directors, with her filmography including I Love Cinema (2004 dir. Osama Fawzi), The Best of Times (2004, dir. Hala Khalil), Downtown Girls (2005, dir. Mohamed Khan), About Love and Passion (2006, dir Kamla Abouzekry), Chaos (2007, dir. Youssef Chahine), Microphone (2010, dire Ahmad Abdalla) and multi-award-winning film Nawara directed by Hala Khalil.

The CIFF is holding a large number of activities including the honouring of various cinema experts with a special tribute to the CIFF’s longtime artistic director Youssef Cherif Rizkallah, as well as the screening of 153 films from 63 countries, with a special focus on Mexican cinema.

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