When I first arrived at Camp, I was a shy kid, but I soon learned to express myself. Camp is where I learned the power of stories and how to listen and encourage people to tell their stories. Today, as a filmmaker, I would be lost without this ability. It was also where I learned to voice my own story—it was important for me to be able to convey my own opinion. Seeds of Peace taught me to communicate my ideas in a way that made them easier for others to digest, while still being able to stay strong in my opinion and open to disagreement.
The movie business is a hard one to break into. There is much conflict within the field, so I am lucky that I learned the skills to manage conflict at such a young age. I know that if I work from my heart and respect others, we’ll find a way to progress. My relationship with Seeds of Peace has reinforced this, providing me with a support system now that I am an adult.
While I was shooting Sout Al Horeya, there was a point where I lost two cameras, taken by the police. I started losing hope that I’d ever be able to make a film showing the revolution through the eyes of Egyptians in Tahrir. It was Seeds of Peace Board Member Bobbie Gottschalk who encouraged me to continue. I’ll never forget that.
How have you impacted your community?
Egypt is a new world today. We have many Egyptians who are inspired by the revolution, but cannot read or write. In this situation, the media has the potential to be a powerful educator. I want my work to be a source of information for all Egyptians that enables them to take a critical role in the development of their country. Film and TV can do this in a way that is inclusive for all Egyptians.
I work every day with people from all walks of life. I listen to them. Egyptians have a great sense of humor. Recently, I hired four Egyptians to write the script for a project I am working on, even though they cannot read or write, because it is important that my work resonates with the average Egyptian. It turns out they are much more talented than I am; they just needed to be given a chance.
I hope my work will give many more Egyptians a similar chance to create the conversations that will move us forward. Much of what is happening in the media today is very negative, and there is no one offering a vision for the future of Egypt. In a small way, I am trying to sustain the spirit of Tahrir while offering my own.
• Egyptian Academy of Arts, Higher Institute of Cinema, valedictorian, 2005
• Freelance filmmaker, including work on Samir, Shahir, Bahir (2010), which topped the Egyptian box office for several months.
• First prize, 2007 Youth Mediterranean Film Festival
“Camp is where I learned the power of stories and how to listen and encourage people to tell their stories.”