Not only Scheherazade tells a story…

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Yousri Nasrallah’s “Ehky ya Scheherazade” exposes the maladies of the double standard society of contemporary Egypt that dictates the human relations between men and women.
Through Heba, portrayed by Mona Zaki, a successful and beautiful anchor woman, the tales of oppressed women of various walks of life are narrated in times of socio-political commotion.

All of these women refused to be victimized, fought back and broke free, and more importantly stood up to the often harsh consequences of their deeds. This is a story about standing up and emancipating yourself from any kind of mental and physical oppression.

“Scheherazade, Tell me a Story” introduced us to some great new talents who mesmerized the audiences with their authentic performance and élan on screen. The beautiful Moroccan actress Sanaa Akroud, young Egyptian actress Nesrine Amin and the talented Nahed El Sebai attracted the critics’ attention along with the gifted Rehab El Gamal.

 

Sanaa Akroud

Another living proof that good things do come in small packages is super talented Moroccan actress Sanaa Akroud, who played Nahed in “Scheherazade, Tell me a Story”. She fell victim to legend Mahmoud Hemeda, who plays a smooth spinster hunter who cons women for financial gain. Already a big star in her home country, Sanaa made her debut on the Egyptian silver screen. I met her as a very humble and elegant woman with both feet on the ground and much to tell.

 

What attracted you to your role in “Scheherazade, Tell me a Story”?

“First of all the presence of the international director Yousri Nasrallah, of course, he has a great personality and I like his views on things. Acting with Mahmoud Hemeda, whom I watched and adored growing up is also a major reason and challenge. I read the Waheed Hamed’s script and the character’s courage attracted me a lot, she is very unlike me. She is this perfect girl, from a good family, well educated and beautiful, simply all a man could ask for. So in order to please everyone she was torn in between, yet she had the courage to face her fate.”

 

We were confronted to various forms of oppression and abuse, is the key message to women not to be a victim?

“I don’t think that Youssri Nasrallah or Wahid Hamid would have a didactic finger pointed in that direction only, violence against women has been discussed a lot in cinema, I think that it is more about men and women, about human beings regardless of gender, being victims to different forces, and about not putting up with that. It is about speaking openly about the problems we have.”

What are the differences between Egypt and Morocco when it comes to filmmaking?

“Both do good cinema. The difference is that in Morocco there is no industry so there is no pressure for commercial productions like in Egypt or India for example. You watch Moroccan movies only in festivals but that’s not healthy in my point of view. In Egypt there is also more technical advancement in production and cinema history. You have many talented filmmakers such as Dawoud Abdel Sayed, Youssri Nasrallah, Osama Fawzi and Mohamed Khan for example. These directors have the cultural awareness to open up with daring and important issues and views. I also watched “Heliopolis”, by Ahmed Abdallah, which I liked a lot. There is also Amr Salama, a very talented young director. I would like to work with all of these. I am here for the sake of acting rater than fame, I love and respect acting.”

Nesrine Amin PHOTO

Nesrine Amin played the tough tomboyish sister in “Ehky ya Scheherazade” with perfection and authenticity that made you believe and feel every inch of their story. She is an applied arts graduate who took on acting through workshops and acted in several short films and theatre productions until she met director Youssri Nasrallah and everything changed. “It is difficult now to accept any role after being in such a great film and to find directors like Youssri Nasrallah as if my performance was any good it is due to him. I am working on myself more by reading and learning more about acting”, Nesrine comments, when being asked about post-Scheherazade projects. Apart from being a very talented actress Nesrine seems very much of an introverted thinker who has a passion for cinema. She would love to work with directors like Dawood Abdel Sayed, Mohamed Khan, Osama Fawzy, Sameh Abdel Aziz and Kamla Abo Zekri. Her dream role is any role different than her personality as this is the “real joy of acting”, she explains. Among the actors she would love to work with are Basem Samra, Asser Yassin, Mahmoud Hemeda and Hend Sabry. In her regular life she is the proud mother of a seven year old and loves to swim and hang out

Nahed El Sebai, known as Nudi, excellently portrayed the third and youngest sister in the film. She is a Mass Communication major at MSA and with her 22 years quite an achiever. With talent and cinema laid in her crib, Nudi is working her way to achieve her passion. She is the granddaughter of the late King of Cinema Farid Shawki and Hoda Sultan and the daughter of Nahed Farid Shawki, yet refuses to use any shortcuts and auditions her way to the top. Apart from short films and theatre she also acted in independent films like “Basra” alongside Basem Samra. “I always wanted to act since I was a toddler”, she adds enthusiastically. “My grandfather didn’t start out as the King he worked his way up and this is the right way. Marlon Brando auditioned for the Godfather and was rejected and ended up as a legend. Here in Egypt we don’t respect the concept of casting and auditioning, which is very sad” she explains. Nudi is a very enthusiastic and spirited young talent that knows how to play the camera right and what she wants in life, perfectly utilizing her girlish charm. Her dream role is that of a very common belly dancer in from a shantytown.

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