“This film is dedicated to every woman that has experienced violence and every woman that broke her silence to create a safe space for those who will come after her.” reads the closing scene of ‘Amena’. The 15-minute film that centers on the latest #Metoo movement. It tackles the impact the movement has had, and the inevitable price people who’ve spoken up had to pay.
‘Amena’ is the graduation project of three MIU Mass Communications graduates Mariam Solika, Myriam Mikhail, and Nayra Ashraf Ismail.
It’s a documentary that addresses all the harassment incidents that caused an uproar on Social Media over the past year, from the ABZ case to the airport harassment incident that took place in June.
Amena features many renowned feminists, activists, and survivors who took part in the movement, bravely raising their voices and uplifting all women’s voices along the way.
Those include Nadine Abdelhamid, the 23-year-old who first spoke up against Ahmed Bassam Zaki, feminist activists Azza Soliman, Malak Boghdady, and Zeina Amr (founder of catcalls of Cairo), clinical psychologist Hala Essam, and a sexual assault survivor who chose to remain anonymous.
The film masterfully takes us through the process of speaking out against harassment. Starting off with what was titled ‘speak up/ اتكلمي’, Nadine Abdelhamid recounts how she came to write the post that accused Ahmed Bassam Zaki of assault and sparked this uproar. “If I don’t speak up, no one’s gonna speak up. It starts with you”, she says.
Then, there was “resistance/مقاومة” where the women expressed how society reacted to their testimonies. One example was Malak Boghdady expressing how she often gets threats of rape for her activism.
“They’re not used to the idea that women can take up space and voice their opinions,” says Zeina Amr.
A truly eye-opening part titled ‘Culture/ثقافة” showcased scenes from Egyptian pop culture in parallel to real-life videos of harassment incidents.
Reality was depicted almost perfectly mimicking scenes Egyptian society at large had watched and laughed at hundreds of times.
In a part titled ‘Impact/ أثر”, Hala Essam and others talked about how traumatizing harassment can be.
And in the final part, ‘Hope/أمل”, women expressed how hearing other women say #metoo had given them strength and how this movement had disrupted the Egyptian status quo that had let harassers off the hook. “There is no girl without a backbone, there’s no girl that’s alone,” said Basma Bishay in her viral video on Instagram about the movement.
3 Young Filmmakers
“It was more of a passion project than a graduation project! As three women from gen Z living in Egypt, the #metoo movement has impacted us on a very personal level. We felt it was important to document it. We also wanted to make a contribution, no matter how small, to this movement,” said Mariam, Nayra, and Myriam.
The three graduates recently held a screening event for the film. It included a Q&A and a panel discussion including the three filmmakers along with activists Malak Boghdady and Zeina Amr.
“The audience was overwhelmed, emotional, enraged, and empathetic by the time the credits started rolling! People came up to us and said that they’d teared up watching it. This meant that our hard work had paid off,” said Mariam, Nayra, Myriam.
“The momentum of the conversations held in the panel discussion looked scary, loud, and was uncontainable at a point. But, that was the purpose of Amena all along. These hard conversations are necessary. Especially, if we’re going to address the social factors contributing to sexual harassment. It won’t come easy,” said Mariam.
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“I am incredibly grateful and my heart is very full to feel like I made even the smallest contribution to something as important as this,” said Nayra.
With ‘Amena’, Mariam, Myriam, and Nayra certainly achieved more than getting an A on their graduation project! They have big plans and a bright future ahead of them including possibly signing Amena up for film festivals! “We want it to go international and as widely as possible locally,” said Mariam.
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The three graduates also have a platform called HER’D and a podcast that they plan to take to the next level. “We hope the platform can become an educational, community platform that will always be a safe space for women,” said Nayra.
Click here to check out HER’D.