A Star on the Cinematic Rise – Hatem Farid

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Being passionate about cinema and arts, Hatem joined AUC and majored in Mass Communications in order to be a step closer to his dream. "I was always into graphic design, painting, playing music and doing short movies with my friends" Hatem points out, "yet at AUC the focus of my major was more on the business side rather on the artistic one". He then left and continued his studies at the Higher Institute of Cinema settling for animated cartoons instead of directing, which was his ultimate goal. During his studies at the Institute he used to assist directing students with their film projects and finally realized that this is his true calling. "It was my dream to travel abroad and study directing however my parents were somewhat against it, at the end they surrendered and I traveled", Hatem explains. Finally, closer to his dream he packed and left to the United States to study film at one of the very prestigious schools for film, where he spent six years and returned to Cairo after graduating. "Our graduation project was to write a script, edit or direct a short film, at that time I wanted to shoot a feature film instead, as I was very fond of independent filmmaking" Hatem comments, "When I told the university that my graduation project would be a feature film I was told it would be very hard and no one actually did it before, they told me to write a movie script and direct it after graduation". Convinced with his idea and believing that he would make it happen he went back to Cairo with his American friend and partner to begin preparations for his film.


Back in Egypt they faced many obstacles regarding financing and production. "There were not many young newcomers (actors), when I started searching for actors I had help from my former colleagues at the Film Institute like Karim Abdel Aziz and I got acquainted with Mona Zaki, and began casting for my film. Due to some financial aspects I lost much time and my partner had left the project and went back to the US". Hatem explains, "So I had to start all over again, I left to New York, bought a digital camera and just shot the film myself! Of course the cast had changed by that time, for the third time actually, and by that time Karim Abdel Aziz and Mona Zaki had become professional actors engaged in other projects and were no newcomers anymore".


Two years later Hatem returned to the US with his 16mm film in his luggage. "I returned to the States in 1999 and my professors told me that they did not expect to see me again" Hatem states. He edited his film and finally graduated as the first student with a feature film in the US. In 2000 his film titled "Habet Sukkar" (A little sugar) was shown at a private screening in Egypt. "By that time a lot of new producers and distributing agents entered the industry, which made things much easier for young directors to be heard", we are told, "it also made it easier for me to be able to begin my current feature film project as "Habet Sukkar" somewhat reduced doubts and fears towards handling a long film on my own".

Currently, he has begun the shooting of his first commercial feature film with Nour and Sherif Mounir in the leading roles. The film is a well kept secret and the only thing revealed is that it is a thriller and most probably to be released summer 2007. "I was preparing for this movie for the past four years, back then the trend was more comedies than suspense thrillers and I thought that the film would not be well received by the audiences", Hatem points out, "then I saw "Malaky Iskendereya" (Prive Alex) and how positively people reacted towards it, so the time was right and I remembered the movie I had in mind".


When asked about his view on the current situation of Egyptian cinema Hatem points out a positive outlook on the technical advancements that are evident in most of the recent films. "The picture and sound quality have improved tremendously in line with the production volume growth, which in turn has increased chances for more actors and it is still a work in progress", Hatem adds, " there should be more good scripts in all genres, though. We need more complex and substantial scripts with deeper woven plots, even in comedy". The current state reflects dynamism and opportunity, which also reflects on chances for newcomers in all aspects, be it actors or directors as producers are more open to new things and influences. After discussing the different film genres and the evident trend of box office hits of the past years different conclusions can be drawn. "Even tough some films, although from minor substance, bring back millions of pounds in return, they portray Egyptians as unsubstantial abroad and locally as well. Often films are copied from American movies, which is not necessarily bad to have a local remake of a movie, yet it should be done in a locally authentic manner in order to be believable for the viewer" Hatem states.


"The quality of young actors in Egypt is very good, most of them will be big stars in the coming five years, and most of them excelled in their movies and are liked by the audiences. Artistic maturity is what makes a good actor become a star at what he/she does, this comes with time and experience, the audience would not feel that at the moment, yet later on in retrospect will be surprised what a greater actor that person became by time" Hatem adds.


His dream movie is an international film that is 100% Egyptian with Egyptian actors and script. "An International film by the book, not just shown in a New York cinema for Egyptians living there, I mean the whole ten yards", he points out. "I am very happy to work with Sherif Mounir on my film, as he is very good at what he does. I would love to work with Adel Imam, as I am a big fan of him and I would have loved to work with the late Ahmed Zaki, God rest his soul."


Hatim Farid is a sympathetic persona, a family man and father of a baby boy. Supported and encouraged by his family and friends, he reflects his inner peace of mind in his working attitude and human relations. Being a guest at his film set during the indoor shooting dedication and passion for his work filled the air of the studio and contaminates every member of cast and crew. When asking for advice for any young struggling director we learned that patience and dedication are the key elements. "Patience, be patient as much as you can or even more as this career is very hard and full off traps. You  must be able to learn what the industry is all about, what the society you live in worries about, learn about people, observe and analyze in order to know what the audience need and want, may be this was why it took me years to observe and study come out with my film, so again it's patience", he closes.

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