Opening 7 Jun 2018
Oum Kulthum was incredibly popular. Her music spoke out about the hardships of war and injustices suffered. When she died on February 4, 1975, over four million people poured into the streets; in Cairo alone two million mourned her death. Mourners grabbed her body from the pallbearers and passed it for hours over their heads through the city. Mara Nagy was her singing voice in the film. Beyoncé used ‘Enta Omri”, one of Kulthum’s greatest hit songs, in her “Naughty Girl” sequence on tour in 2016.
Director Shirin Neshat showed her film at the 2017 Filmfest Hamburg, accompanied by actress Neda Rahmanian, who played the Iranian director Mitra in this film about the struggles of a non-Arabic-speaking woman making a film about Oum Kulturm, the legendary first female Egyptian singer, who broke the gender ban. When speaking about this strikingly beautiful film surrounded by her film team, Neshat, who years before had displayed her video installations in Hamburg’s Kunsthalle, said, “When the film began, the first three years were spent making a Kulthum biopic. Then (we) changed directions. It was impossible to get her (Kulthum’s) essence. She had wanted to be an image. Kulthum wrote a five-page biography of her childhood, that’s all! We made many trips to Egypt. The force of nature was represented by the ocean.” (Nancy Tilitz)