Tackling issues from various cultures, backgrounds, and identities is key for filmmakers, according to 26-year-old Sondos Tarek. Having first realized her passion for filmmaking at the age of 20, by 23, Sondos’ film ‘On My Way to the Cinema’ won the award for Best Movie at Sharm El Sheikh Asian Festival and the award for Best Script at Zawya’s Short Film Festival.
She graduated from the faculty of Applied Arts at the German University in Cairo, and currently, she works as an executive manager for Studio Masr. We sat down with Sondos Tarek to know all about her take on the film industry in Egypt.
When and how did you realize your passion for film-making?
I’ve always enjoyed tasks that require doing things with my own hands and letting out all of this energy that I have physically and mentally. In 2015, I worked with my best friend, Noura A. Rahman, on a short film assignment in our Moving Image course.
It all made sense when I worked on that first assignment.
I remember the adrenaline rush and excitement I felt when Noura and I were breaking down her script and thinking of ways to bring it to life.
Your films won a handful of awards, how do you feel about that?
Our first was the Production Grant Award from Masr Dot Bokra in 2016 for the short film “Pixels’. It’s written and directed by Saad Dnewar, co-directed, shot, and produced by myself and animated and edited by Noura A. Rahman.
We got rejected from six film competitions in the same year before we got this award. The win gave us hope and confidence to move forward regardless of the rejections.
I used to believe it was just luck, a big part of why is imposter syndrome. I worked hard on myself to get rid of it. 2 years after the completion of my film, it was getting the exposure it deserved.
I just feel grateful that all the energy I put into creating and producing, paid off, in the right place at the right time.
What do you think of the film-making industry in Egypt?
As a young independent filmmaker, who has no secure funding, it’s very challenging. It’s hard to convince a good cast and crew to put their time, effort, and trust in you. Especially when the production experience could be hectic or sometimes even dangerous (like when you’re shooting guerilla style in the streets of Cairo).
Then of course there’s the challenge of anticipating some sort of reward. Of course, having a finished film that can be seen and related to is the main purpose. But, having a film that gets distributed or sold will get it to reach more audiences. It’s a challenge in Egypt because there is no reference or guide on how to get your film out there. It’s a constant process of trials, rejections, networking, and just figuring things out as you go.
What’s your dream project or the topics you want to tackle the most?
I think Egyptian mainstream cinema lacks an honest representation of Egyptian women on screen. There are so many important stories yet to be told!
I want to explore how social norms impact societies, to question why things are the way they are.
Why is pink feminine and blue masculine? I’ve been trying to find my voice through the art of storytelling. I am hoping this helps me create honest and genuine content that speaks on behalf of the voices that need to be heard.
Sondos Tarek, do you think the film industry in Egypt is more paved for female filmmakers than it was before?
By nature, people fear change and the unknown. Whether it’s our families trying to protect and monitor us, or society feeling threatened by a woman who knows what she wants.
I try to remind myself every now and then that the industry is paved for anyone who works hard to be a part of it, regardless of gender.
Because, at the end of the day, a piece of art that makes you relate, think, or feel something speaks way louder than any stereotype.
Women can overcome these barriers by just being brave and confident regardless of the stereotypes! It’s not easy with the pressure put on women in all male dominated industries. But, just focusing on you and what you want to say and accepting the fact that finding your voice is a matter of trial & error after having the confidence or strength to speak up and take up space.
We can’t wait to see what else this fierce filmmaker has up her sleeve. To stay updated on her fierceness, click here .