Egypt film icon Faten Hamama dies, aged 83

20 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Faten Hamama: A life in cinema.

CAIRO (AP) — Hundreds of mourners have gathered at a mosque outside Cairo for the funeral of actress Faten Hamama, a pillar of Middle Eastern cinema who died a day earlier after a career that spanned seven decades and graced the golden age of Egyptian filmmaking.

BEIRUT: Lebanese politicians expressed their condolences following the passing of Arab film icon Faten Hamama who died Saturday, at the age of 83, the state-run National News Agency (NNA) said. Geagea expressed his condolences to Hamama’s relatives, her fans and to Egyptians in general saying “the Lady of the Arabic screen shall remain a beautiful memory in our consciousness and a source of pride to Egyptians and Arabs alike.” Former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora also commented on the actress’ passing, quoted by the NNA as saying “with Hamama’s death, the Arabic screen is now left without its respectful and discreet lady who represented her country and nation, and presented a classy and decent model of culture and art and creativity.” Siniora also expressed his condolences to the Lebanese, Egyptian and Arab audiences hoping for an artistic and cultural “renaissance” in the Arab World. “The Lady of the Arabic screen,” as she was known, died after suffering from a “sudden health problem,” according to Egypt’s official news agency MENA. The Ministry of Culture said Hamama, 84, died after a period of illness, and ordered a halt of all artistic work in the country for two days of mourning. She was a true example of the Egyptian woman.” Her last public appearance was in 2014 when she attended, along with other actors and singers, a meeting with former army chief Abdul Fattah Al Sissi during his presidential campaign. Alert: If you are facing problems with posting comments, please note that you must verify your email with Disqus prior to posting a comment. follow this link to make sure your account meets the requirements. (

Despite her birth certificate showing that she was born in Mansoura, Egypt, Hamama has always claimed that she was born in the Abdeen district of Cairo. She graced our screens in over 100 films and her pioneering work will remain an inspiration to generations of cineastes, actors and audiences in the Middle East and beyond for years to come,” said Diff chairman Abdul Hamid Juma. “It was our absolute privilege to honour such a distinguished artist and human being at DIFF in 2009 with a Lifetime Achievement Award and we will always cherish her performances in many of the all-time great movies in Arab cinema.

In an interview with Al Jazeera News in 2006, Hamama recalled that when the audience started to clap at the end, she told her father that “I imagined that they were clapping for me”. After that, he sent a photograph of her to the director Mohammad Karim, who was looking for a young female child to star in a picture alongside the famous actor and musician Mohammad Abdul Wahab. Karim was so impressed with the young actress that he signed a contract with her father, and she went on to appear in more films, including Rossassa Fel Qalb (Bullet in the Heart) in 1944 and Dunya (World) in 1946. Having recognised her from her earlier films, Wahbi offered to mentor her, offering the then 15-year-old a lead role in the 1946 drama Malak Al Rahma (Angel of Mercy). In 1949, Hamama bagged lead roles in three films that all became box-office hits: Kursi Al Ateraf (The Chair of Confessions); Al Yateematain (The Two Orphans); and Sit Al Bait (The Housewife).

That year also marked her international film debut, as Lak Youm Ya Zalem was submitted to the Cannes Film Festival where it was nominated for the Prix International Award. That was a factor I took into consideration before approving my scripts,” she said. “And international films never interested me; while acting in foreign movies, you must accept wearing revealing outfits and doing anything.

In the same 2006 Al Jazeera interview, the actress confessed that her love for Zulficar was little more than “a student’s admiration and love for a teacher”. In 1954, while filming Sira’a Fi Al Wadi, Hamama refused to co-star opposite the actor Shoukri Sarhan, and so the role was offered to the ‘young and upcoming actor’ Omar Sharif instead. Until 1952, Hamama was an outspoken supporter of the 1952 Revolution, but later became an opponent of the Free Officers and what she called “their oppressive regime”.

However, following a number of disputes with the Egyptian Intelligence, she fled the country between 1966 and 1971, where she spent her time between Beirut and London. During her time away, then-President Gamal Abdul Nasser asked famous writers, journalists and friends to try to convince her to return to Egypt, calling her a “national treasure”. In the 1970s, Hamama took on some of the most important film roles of her career, receiving an award from the Soviet Union of Women at the Moscow International Festival for 1972’s Embratoriat Meem (The Empire of M). They were so concerned with their problems that they did not even notice me.” Until her very last productions — her final film, Ard Al Ahlam (Land of Dreams) in 1993, and the TV series, Wagh Al Qamar (Face of the Moon) in 2000 — Hamama remained the highest-paid actress in Egyptian cinema.

During the celebration of 100 years of Egyptian cinema in 1996, she was chosen as the country’s most important actress, and 18 of her films were selected as among the best 150 made to that time.

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