Let’s Talk: A Cinematic Experience of the Mother-Daughter Relationship through the eyes of Marianne Khoury

Exploring motherhood through the art of filmmaking, Marianne Khoury takes us on a very special journey. 

“Let’s Talk” is a documentary directed by Marianne Khoury about her late mother. 

Te film can be described as a feature film of a deep and profound plot made out of documentary material. Te film examines Marianne’s relationship with her mother, daughter, and grandmother by asking bold and daring questions. When we interviewed her, we had a million questions about every single detail in the film, but we tried to curb our enthusiasm. Here is how it went down. 

Someone has to die for another to live. Tell us the backstory of this idea and how it helped shape the movie? Death here doesn’t refer to the physical death, but think of it as someone who gives space for another to breathe or be in the spotlight. Like in the movie, you could see how the focus was always on Youssef Chahine instead of Iris, my mother. 

What inspired you to make this movie about your mother? Te trigger was my daughter Sara. I had loads of footage, but one day I had a long, deep talk with Sara and there was a magical moment. 

How did you successfully manage to turn it into a feature film with documentary material? I had to detach myself from the film. For many years, I was building the story, but when the time came to edit, it was no longer me. I had to detach myself from them and try to build each character separately. I worked so hard on the structure and development of each character like in any feature film. 

How hard was it to convince your family members to be in the movie? Nobody believed I was making a film, because I always film, I always have a camera around in our lives. Other members of the family may have a different opinion, they might not like sharing or talking about a certain aspect of their lives. 

Do you think the mother-daughter relationship is under-discussed in our films and culture? Why? I didn’t make the movie because I thought that the mother-daughter relationship is under-discussed, I did it because I had the need for it. It developed organically. I didn’t know that there were going to be many mothers and daughters. 

The film helped me understand that every mother-daughter relationship is unique, do you think this particular relationship is stereotyped in our culture? It was asking the questions we usually never dare to ask, did my mother love me? Did she help me? I never spoke with my mother about depression; we never expressed or talked about how we feel, but with Sara, it’s a different generation. 

Will an Empowered mother raise an empowered child? If empowerment means independence, then not necessarily. Maybe she wasn’t an empowered mother, but she wants that for her children, but there has to be a level of awareness. 

How did the men in your family contribute to making you who you are today? I was brought up in a very open-minded family, my father was a self-made man and he used to tell me that I am free to do whatever I want with my life. Tis made me a very responsible person as I began working at a young age, and with freedom and choices comes great responsibility. 

How hard is it telling women-related stories in Egyptian cinema today? What are the challenges? I feel that I didn’t have any scandalous stories; I believe all the stories in the film were ordinary. 

“Banat el Ayam di.” Complete the sentence. How do you see them? Brave. They do what they want, and they earned it because they are speaking up for themselves. 

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