Fork and Knife or Shokah we Sekina, directed and written by Adam Abd ElGhaffar, premiered at the El Gouna Film Festival under the Short Film Competition. The film had won the first prize at Tayarah workshop last year at the GFF 2017 and made its debut this year. Successful accomplishment for Abd El Ghaffar continuing on his success of his first short stories collection Plateau, but in a new medium of short fiction.
The film takes us through an intense dinner date between a man and a woman, who seem like two strangers at first sharing secrets about love, marriage and infidelity. Cutting back and forth to the dinner date, we see them entering in different relationships with other people. Eyad Nassar’s character is the typical cheating married man, who prefers to have sex with other married women, while Menna Shalaby’s character challenges the double-standard of why it is okay for men to cheat but not for women.
Shalaby’s character decides to reconnect with her first love, Asser Yassin, and sleeps with him, but then he tells her after they finish that they can’t remain together because she chose someone else to marry when he loved her in the past.
The story seems to favor the men’s side of things, when the movie ends with Shalaby telling Nassar that she slept with someone and he divorces her on the spot and she cries, even though he is as much of a cheater. On the other hand, we see Shalaby standing up for herself by confronting her husband, and even exploring her past relationship with Yassin probably to revenge her cheating husband, but also because she misses love.
I find the film to be pushing a dialogue unusual to how couples speak in such situations. In a way it seems like a forced setting to show how marriages are a dysfunctional setting for sexual relations. A man wants to marry a picture perfect wife, while preferring to sleep with other married women and then treat them like an escort service. While a woman wants to feel an emotional connection and vulnerability with a man that then turns into great sex, yet she still gets heartbroken and divorced in the end. In this game no one wins.