“Their Feast”

Published: 9 December 2014

Country: Egypt

Their_FeastEgyptian filmmaker Reem Morsi recently featured her short film “Their Feast” at the BBC Arabic Film and Documentary Festival Aan Korb in London. The film, supported by the Media Diversity Institute (MDI), tells the story of Amaal, an ex-political prisoner and struggling mother facing hardships in post-Moubarak Egypt.

Morsi, the Canadian-based filmmaker, uses her films to put a spotlight on issues that people in the Middle East may face and aims at giving a voice to the average Egyptian. In an interview for the MDI website, she talked about her storytelling technique, Egypt and the female filmmakers.

MDI: Why “Their Feast”?

Reem Morsi: The title is inspired by the family preparing a big meal for their home-coming son in an effort to make him feel welcome and at home. But the film is very symbolical, so the title has another meaning to it. It reflects how people in power in Egypt have plundered the country’s resources for so long and how the Egyptian people now have their own feast.

MDI: You are of Egyptian origin, but you are not based there. Is it difficult for you to know what is happening inside the country?

Reem Morsi: For me, it is especially hard to trust the media. When I was there, seven months before the president Mohammed Morsi was removed, I felt that what I witnessed in the streets every day did not match what was reported by the media. So now, whenever I want to know about what is happening in Egypt, I call my friends but I don’t look at the news, because I don’t think that the media accurately portrays what is going on.

MDI: Do you think that this film will help show a different perspective on what is happening in the country? What will be the contribution of this film?

Reem Morsi: The film is being screened in a few festivals, like Cannes and other smaller festivals in Europe, but also has been screened in the BBC cinema channel a few times, so I hope that it provides a different view on what is happening there. The issues faced by released prisoners in Egypt have not yet been covered much in Egyptian films. I want to show how prisoners do not experience much support in post-revolution Egyptian society after being released.

MDI: Do the social divisions remain in post-Mubarak Egypt?

Reem Morsi: I try to go to Egypt as often as possible and I can see that social divisions remain. But I have to say that when I arrived there a few weeks after the revolution, I felt completely out of place, because people actually got along better with one another.

MDI: Is there any change regarding the situation of women after the 2011 revolts?

Reem Morsi: I am currently writing a script on women and sexual rights. I don’t know if you have seen the film “The Square”. There is a scene where a few girls spend the night at Tahrir Square and experience harassment by other, more conservative-looking women in the morning. They call them prostitutes for spending the night at a place with men present. For me, it was quite shocking to see women saying this about other women, despite the revolution and all the changes. Then, I went to Egypt and I was listening to a radio show where the host was talking about how a group of women were attacked with sulphuric acid when walking down the street. The host was asking the listeners to give their opinion on this act and I was disappointed to hear that both men and women were saying that the attackers just tried to purify the country, as the women were not veiled.

MDI: Was it difficult for you to work as a female filmmaker in Egypt?

Reem Morsi: I heard that some of my befriended female filmmakers had difficulties with asserting their authority in their film crew. Personally, I didn’t have this issue with my crew.