January 28, 2010

Ana Hurra Film Screening (Wed. 27 Jan. 2010)

School of Theatre, Performance and Cultural Policy Studies

Staging Arab Realities

Second-Year Module

Invites all the university community to the first module-related film screening

Ana Hurra (I am Free!)

Based on the novel with the same title by Ihsan Abdel Quddous (1954)

Directed by Salah Abu-Seif

B&W - Egypt 1959 (with English subtitles)


I am Free Poster


I am Free Jacket Blurb


1:45-3:45 p.m.                 Wednesday 27 Jan. 2010

Room G52, Millburn House


Related Links

Obituary: Salah Abu-Seif (The Independent 27 June 1996)

Ihsan Abdel Quddous (Wikipedia entry) - Use at your own peril

A Century After Qasim Amin (male author of The Liberation of Women) - Al Jadid, Vol. 6, no. 32 (Summer 2000)

(Egyptian) Feminism in a Nationalist Century - Margot Badran (Al-Ahram Weekly 30 Dec. 1999)




- 4 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. Fergus

    I talked a bit in the session about how I felt ‘let down’ by the ending sections of the film, but in general I really enjoyed it, much more than I expected to if I’m honest. I noted down a few things about the different conflicts in the film, and the arguments around what constitutes ‘freedom’ but what struck me as the most interesting thing was how Egypt and Cairo were presented in the film. Although towards the end we are told of the need for ‘Revolution’ and the plight of the Egyptian poor etc, untill, and indeed, after that point we never see anything of that side of Egypt. All the characters live confortably and even the main character’s struggle for independance is against society and tradition, not government law. The scenes of Cairo that we get, seem pleasant and there is no government or police presence untill the very end of the film. It seemed odd, for a film with such a clearly overt political message not to try and present the pre-revolution Egypt as more obviously in dire need of change.

    30 Jan 2010, 15:05

  2. Kate Carr

    It was an interesting experience to watch a classic, albeit from another culture, with a totally fresh perspective. Though there were, of course, references I did not get and cultural issues I did not fully understand the film kept my attention throughout and I thought most of the characters were interesting and rounded. I did enjoy watching it. However I enjoyed the first half much more than the second. Perhaps I connected with Amina’s struggle for freedom only from the perspective as a woman, since I have no experience and little knowledge of the revolution, but I felt disappointed by her final decision to marry. Her position on freedom throughout the film and seemed so fierce and so unwavering that the end felt almost out of character and I became disappointed in a character I had previously liked.

    The representation of the revolutionaries interested me as well. For a film that appeared to praise the revolution as a worthy cause it seemed odd the key revolutionary figure was portrayed in such a bourgeois manner and his low opinions of the poor were confusing. I would have expected a more sympathetic view from a man who was apparently trying to exact change for the greater good.

    I enjoyed how the film depicted the debate over the different types and ways of achieving freedom. However my own opinions clashed with the film’s final expression of the meaning freedom and this lowered my opinion on what was otherwise a very enjoyable film.

    30 Jan 2010, 15:42

  3. bella

    Apologies for the late reply, had problems with home internet connection ytd!
    the film explored the concept of freedom very thoroughly, through the perspective of the traditional woman, the modern woman yearning to be liberated, the political revolutionary and the passive but contented citizen, aminas father.
    within that short span of 2hrs, i felt like i experienced a synecdoche of the countrys journey through change, through the eyes of ordinary people.
    there was nothing i did not like about the film particularly, except for maybe when amina sacrificed herself for love, which i thought was more exploitation on the lovers part.
    the film definitely connected with me more on the emotional rather than rational level though, and this could be due to its style, the way music was used and how actors acted.

    31 Jan 2010, 10:20

  4. I thought the ideas surrounding freedom represented in the play were very complex. To be honest, by the end of the film I was unsure what type of ‘freedom’ was being promoted. In the first place it is quite unusual for a film to be quite so didactic – I think the modern tendency of art is to display and discuss issues rather than actually suggest what is right and wrong.

    However, from the offset this film had a clear point to make – the girl wanted to gain her freedom from traditions she saw as oppressive and prejudiced. She was the heroine fighting, for herself and cousin, against her villainised aunt and uncle.

    I understood the distinction made between freedom to stay out late and the superior freedom to choose whether you want to or not. It is interesting that from the ‘traditional’ viewpoint in the film, higher education was a freedom likened to the scandalous suggestion of sexual promiscuity.

    This is why I think it was necessary for there to be both an oppressed male and female character; the author/director needed to show that it was not only women who were denied ‘freedom’ but also men. The cousin longing to learn the violin, and the prevalence of Western orchestral music throughout the film, suggests not only a fear of liberated women but also a fear of encroaching Western bourgeois values.

    I felt there were parallels to be made between the male suitor and the man she falls in love with (sorry I am a bit sketchy on the names!) with Ilwan in the Song of Death. Ilwan is highly educated and he rebels against the traditional values and family feud. However, he is still part of the traditional realm, as he also desires some revenge, or at least he had done so in the past. The male suitor enjoys the work of El Hakim, Beethoven, he takes the trip to the swimming pool, yet, he takes part in arranged marriage. The second man rebels against the regime that upholds the old political values and is imprisoned for it; Ilwan is killed when he rebels against his family’s traditional values.

    This idea of ‘West’ meeting the ‘Arab’ world is discussed one of the TED videos whilst the other focuses on the benefits of too much choice, too much freedom. This later point I understand less in the 1959 film. In all honesty, one of my first reactions to the film was to see it as a feminist piece but then this understanding of it, I feel, was undermined by the film’s conclusion. Therefore, this is one area I wish to discuss further and will catch up from my classmates.

    One of the other small observations I had was that in the Song of death, the traditional values and the more Western bourgeois are separated by location – rural and city. Whilst in the film, both the values meet in the city, albeit in different neighbourhoods.

    02 Feb 2010, 20:51


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