He may not have made it to this year’s Oscar shortlist, but Egyptian filmmaker Khaled El Hagar won two Golden Khanjars for his film Lust (Al-Shooq) last month at the seventh Muscat International Film Festival. The film was awarded Best International Film and Best Actress for Sawsan Badr.
On the phone to Euromed Audiovisual, El Hagar said that he was very happy to receive awards for a film that had been difficult to finance, not being a typical commercial film, and because Egypt took away five awards from the festival. The film was supported by Qatar and France, he said.
In December 2010, Lust also won the Golden Pyramid at the Cairo International Film Festival, where it was the first Egyptian film to win in 14 years. It was then put forward by Egypt as its official contender for the Oscar for Best Film in a Foreign Language this year, although the award then went to Iran’s A Separation by Asghar Farghadi.
The screenplay for Lust was developed during Euromed Audiovisual II’s Meda Films Development (MFD) in Morocco, as one of ten feature films to participate each year.
According to the Doha Film Institute, this is the film’s plot: Lust takes us into the lives of the inhabitants of a marginalised street in Alexandria, Egypt, before the revolution. Each character is isolated in their fierce, yet fragile dreams, including Umm Shooq (Sawsan Badr), who has deserted her wealthy family to marry the man she loves. She has settled into an existence of poverty when an unexpected challenge forces her to make the most difficult decision of her life.
The film’s screenplay was written by actor Sayed Ragab, who most recently appeared in Asmaa by Amr Salama, Egypt’s first film about living with HIV/Aids. He originally wrote a short story called Lust that was so successful that he decided to develop it into a screenplay, he told Masress in November 2010. In the film, Lust is the mother’s lust for money and power, her two daughters’ lust for romantic love, the father’s lust for stability and safety, and the neighbour’s lust for money, he said.
After earning a law degree in 1987, El Hagar worked as an assistant director to famous Egyptian director Youssef Chahine, and received his degree in film directing from the National Film and Television School in Beaconsfield, England. He has directed six award-winning feature films including A Room to Rent, his first feature film as a writer and director, and the musical None But That!
In 2011, he directed his first television drama called Shoubra Square for Misr International Films and the BBC World Service Trust, that was aired during Ramadan 2011. He is now preparing a new film about the 18 days that led up to the ouster of former president Husni Mubarak, to be called Fear.
Lust (Al-Shooq) by Khaled El Hagar: