Egyptian director Amal Ramses told Al Jazeera Net: I don’t run behind the cinema market and I don’t know political caution

Egyptian director Amal Ramses is one of the prominent faces in Arab documentary cinema, and this is mainly due to the amazing aesthetic possibilities offered us by Amal Ramses’ works in a series of her films shown globally.

Amal Ramses’ fame increased with freshness, glow, and professionalism during the quarantine period, when she presented us with a film team with the “Convoy between Cinematographers” program to show dozens of films from around the world, including the Arab world.

Over the course of many months, the program succeeded in creating an epistemological debate among Arab critics regarding the importance and strength of some Arab films and their relations with the historical path that Arab countries took in the contemporary era. This is not new for the hope of Ramses, the owner of “You Come From Afar”, who is preoccupied in a number of her films with the concept of memory in relation to the emotional biography of the Other.

And about her cinematic experience and her relationship with the Film Caravan program, Al Jazeera Net had this special interview with her:

Cinema and the question of beginnings

Amal Ramses.. First, from studying law to cinema, how do you explain this transition?

Before studying law, I loved to study cinema, and this was my hope, because cinema fascinates me and I feel that it is the closest method to me, but I decided to study law, because it is difficult in my country to live from cinema.

When I worked as a lawyer, I found that I was completely far from what I had imagined, and this made me decide to study cinema when I traveled to Spain.

As for why cinema? I really don’t know. But because I like to tell stories and I don’t know how to tell them except in moving pictures, because I’m not the type to hold a camera and create still pictures; It does not draw me in comparison to the dynamic in my mind. I think this is the only way I can express myself; That is why I loved cinema and its images because I feel that it is the closest to my heart.

From the movie Forbidden, directed by Amal Ramses (communication sites)

The aesthetics of the documentary

Amal Ramses is one of the poise women who work silently and cautiously in choosing their subjects and worlds towards political and social issues. How did you become aware of yourself cinematically through the documentary?

Yes, I work in silence but not with caution, because my last three films that I worked on do not have any political caution. This is an area in which I think it is necessary to work freely, and this is my first and last criterion; To express myself without restrictions or fear of any form of censorship, so politically I do not think there is any kind of caution, because the things I have worked on can be a bit adventurous.

But I agree with you in the second part from a technical point of view, because I work on films quietly and do not like to accumulate them one by one. In order to run behind the production of films, that is why I like to work on them by meeting, which makes me develop them so that I do not look like I am running behind the market.

In fact, before working in the field of documentaries, I am interested in public affairs and have an opinion on politics and what goes on in its orbit, and therefore cinema is an extension of my interests in the world around me, people and change, they are not separated from each other, because cinema is what makes me express many things from The aesthetic aspect and in terms of dedicating its ideas, and this is well evident in the topics that I work on.

The documentary and the arrest of the intimate

To what extent can the documentary film, compared to the novel, capture the intimacy in our selves that are afflicted at the political and social levels? Is your latest documentary film “You Come From Afar” in this aesthetic horizon?

In fact, I do not think much between the documentary and the novelist and their intimate relationship with the cinema. Many directors express intimate things in film through fiction and vice versa also in documentary, but in the end it remains just a creative way to communicate our thoughts, feelings and what we live in.

As for my film “You Come From Afar”, it can be somewhat strange, as its subject was far from me, and I did not see it intimate from the beginning. For my relationship with the Spanish War is not very strong, so it was necessary to enter on the grounds that “there are many things to know”. So I get intimately close to other people through their different experiences.

Therefore, I later felt some similarities between things that I personally experienced, but the feeling does not come from the first moment of work, but rather from a topic that interests you and you are trying to work on it in a different way, and search for a character in the topic because I did not want to show a movie about a family, but rather search for Something that shakes me personally, and the viewer will feel the same way about some intimate things.

A convoy between cinemas

You are the director of the “Convoy between Women Filmmakers” programme, an independent initiative concerned with women’s cinema from all over the world. First, how did the thought come about this initiative, which today has become one of the important programs that critics follow in the Arab world?

The idea of ​​the caravan started in 2008 in my last stage in Madrid, Spain, the moment I was returning to Cairo, but the idea came to life in Cuba during the screening of some of my films. At this point, I thought of creating a cinema caravan, in order to create a kind of communication from the point of view of women directors and filmmakers, and to point out important issues that needed to be discussed.

From here came the idea to set up a group of film screenings in Latin America and the Arab world as a whole. At the same time, we were working on translating it from Spanish to Arabic and vice versa. We have shown more than 70 shows over a period of about 13 or 14 years, but the idea was mainly based on renewing communication between the two worlds, although there are many common things on the economic and social levels, but this time it will be through cinema and from the point of view of women.

This is how the shows were held in Cairo, and they began to grow with their audience in Egypt because people felt our efforts and then because most of the films are translated free of charge and without any hierarchy or discrimination, although my opinion is that people who do not have capabilities are more than entitled to follow them and watch films.

Thus, the caravan began to grow because its shows remained annual, and it turned into the Cairo International Film Festival for Women until 2018, where it worked in 5 halls a day for an entire week. We had shown about 75 films. But after the circumstances that have passed in the Arab world, we are now holding the caravan “online.” Although we are far from cinemas, we can show solidarity through the virtual world and reach many regions of the Arab world.

selection criteria

What are the technical and aesthetic criteria that you use in choosing films to show? Does this have any political and social orientation, given that most films carry protest dimensions and an aesthetic revolution in Arab cinema?

Our criteria are democratic in choices, because we are a group of filmmakers, we make lists, we hold a vote, and in the end we choose the films we agreed on. We do not have personal relationships in the cinematic field until we choose one film over another only because we know the director or producer, this is not present, and this makes our choices primarily aesthetic and cinematic.

This is evident in the films we show, and more than that we are interested in topics that ask questions about things and areas we haven’t thought of yet. Therefore, we need the best that creates amazement on the aesthetic, intellectual and psychological levels.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.