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Egyptian Film ‘The Brink of Dreams’ Screened at Cannes Critics’ Week

The documentary follows a group of Coptic girls and their self-made street theatre group in the Upper Egypt town of Barsha.

Cairo Scene

Egyptian Film ‘The Brink of Dreams’ Screened at Cannes Critics’ Week

Egyptian documentary film ‘The Brink of Dreams’ has just been screened at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival for Critics’ Week, following its selection by Ava Cahen, three-time Artistic Director of the festival. Directed by Nada Riyadh and Ayman El Amir, the feature was shot over four years, following a group of young Coptic women and girls as they established their own all-female street theatre group, thereby challenging their traditional upbringing in Upper Egypt.

Selected from over 1,000 entries, the film is only the second feature film produced by the directors.

“We worked at a women's NGO around eight years ago. We got to know the girls at that time,” Ayman El Amir tells CairoScene. “When we came across them, it felt like witnessing a small miracle.” The project was completely grassroots, with the girls themselves running the troupe as their own community.

Embarking on a voyage of self discovery, the girls grapple with the struggle of living authentically and adhering to their traditional, rural status quo. That journey reveals as much about them as it does about the long-standing traditions that created the culture of their lovely but stagnant village of Barsha, and conversely the wildly varied world that exists beyond its confined borders.

“At the end of the day, the goal is to champion Upper Egypt and all it has to offer,” says Nada Riyadh. “I feel that this film can encourage more people to make films about unknown places in Egypt, and seek out and champion their heritage and art.”

The film reveals a complex narrative of personal and cultural conflict in the neglected south of the country, as the girls age into womanhood throughout the film and become increasingly aware of what would normally be expected of them. The group members - the stars of the documentary - refuse to shy away from their ambitions, but must confront the reality of their situation, and the limitations that are entrenched therein.


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