The late ‘Lady of the Arab Screen’ combined ‘femininity’ with ‘strength’

20 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Egyptian Actress Faten Hamama Dies at Age 83.

CAIRO — Thousands of mourners gathered at a mosque outside Cairo on Sunday 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. Her passing drew condolences from across the film industry, and even a rare message, for an artist, from the country’s president, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.

Sharif did not give a cause of death, while the news agency MENA said she had a sudden health problem that led to her death, the French news agency AFP reported. The two remained Egypt’s favorite romantic couple in spite of their separation in the 1970s.(Photo: Al Ahram) On the right a photo of 7 year old Faten Hamama from her first film Happy Day, on the left a slightly older Hamama with music legend Mohamed Abdel-Wahab(Photo: Al Ahram) Faten Hamama and ex-husband Omar Sharif.

Hamama starred in dozens of films and worked alongside Egypt’s most lauded movie director, Youssef Chahine, as well as actor Omar Sharif, to whom she was married for 10 years. In a statement, Egypt’s presidency said the whole region had lost a valuable artistic asset. “We’re here to say goodbye to Faten Hamama, because she’s a symbol who delivered a message of classiness. While the former wife of internationally acclaimed actor Omar al-Sharif is remembered as one of Arab cinema’s most feminine and classy stars, many are dubbing Hamama as a symbol of women’s strength and describing her more than 100 film career as reflecting her advocacy for women’s rights. “Faten Hamama was not given the title ‘The Lady of Arab Screen’ out of thin air as her work had always symbolized and expressed the plight of women,” the Arabic-language monthly magazine Hia, Arabic for she, said in online article as a tribute to the artist. “Her work always illuminated on issues that have affected Egyptian and Arab women … at the time when nobody dared to touch these sensitive and thorny subjects,” it added.

One famed actress, who goes by the moniker Sharihan, wrote on her Facebook page that Hamama would remain “the greatest example for women and symbol for Egyptian women,” while Palestinian newspaper Al-Watan Voice described her as “the first who pursued women’s issues.” In the 1975 movie “Uredo Halan,” or “I Want a Solution,” about a married woman who wants a divorce because of an abusive relationship, Hamama showed the suffering of Egyptian women going through the country’s then complicated divorce process. Hamama considered cinema and theater as a positive force for change in Egypt, despite the fact that its conservative society considered the acting profession as less-than-honorable at the beginning of her career.

Hamama and Sharif appeared together in several movies but are best known for their 1961 movie River of Love, which is based on Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. In her 1959 “Duaa Al-Karawan,” or “The Nightingale’s Prayer,” she played a rural girl named Amina who rebels against tradition in an Upper Egypt setting. 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. (http://bit.ly/vDisqus) Her 1975 film “I Want a Solution” gave a scathing critique of divorce and marriage laws in Egypt, while 1965’s “The Sin” focused on the oppression of struggling peasants.

Ahmed Rida, a cinema critic for the London-based Asharq Al-Awsat, said Hamama “never accepted a role that would give a woman a bad image; she was always very careful on what to choose and she knew what she was doing.” While she embodied traits of the “girl-next-door,” “she had a very strong character, which helped even when she played ‘Al-Haram’ by director Henry Barakat, which was his best movie,” Rida said. “Even when she was raped [on screen], she had strength in her character,” he said, adding that Hamama was able to elicit “all the sympathy the audience could offer.” “She was a very good actress by the time; I believe she was around 47 or 50 years old. The receiver of the now famous kiss was Michel Demitri Shalhoub, her future husband, better known today as Omar Sharif. “My memory of her doesn’t have of her any racy scenes all throughout,” Rida said, noting that the actress had sought to “preserve” her image. “She knew that Arabs of the 1950s and 1960s were still very conservative but not like now where there are some with extreme understandings or conceptions of Islam.” “What made her unique is the strength that she expressed throughout her acting career.

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