Messages Between Women: a life-changing film workshop

Moqattam Cinema Club sponsored the screening of 16 one-minute movies created during a workshop titled “Messages Between Women, 2010.” The workshop was organized by the Spanish Cultural Center and managed by Amal Ramsis, a directing coach.

This is the third year for the workshop. “College Frères Jesuite offered the venue for the five day training,” said Omnia Khalil, one of the young female directors. “The workshop was founded on the basis of cultural exposure and exchange,” she added. “I am an architect and everything I do is systematic and calculated, but during the workshop, I learned to translate my ideas into images that can be understood and interpreted by others.”

All 16 short movies share one theme: “identity.” Women from all backgrounds and age groups took part in the 25 hours of training, the most important condition being that none have any previous experience in directing.

“I was approached by Amal Ramsis during a storytelling workshop, and encouraged to apply,” says Um Abdallah, one of the directors. Um Abdallah’s movie told the story of a fortune teller able to see the future for others, but incapable of predicting the smallest details in her own life. “My message to women through that movie is to stop hiding behind myths and illusion,” said the veiled Um Abdallah. Before taking part in the workshop, Um Abdallah was illiterate; she has since finished primary school.

“We all got to experience ourselves during this workshop; a seed has been planted in us and we nurtured it,” said Eman, a participating director in her forties.

“The workshop took place in Mexico, Syria, Lebanon, and Bolivia,” said Ramsis, the workshop trainer. “We used the same camera and the same conditions with the same number of women in all the countries we visited,” she added proudly. In every country the workshop visited, material and footage from the previous country is screened to promote cultural identification and exchange. None of the movies have yet been edited. 

One of the most interesting films is of a man and a woman playing Basra, the popular Egyptian Card game, in which the Jack usually get all the points. In this case, however, the Queen was victorious (el-bint to’osh)! Another shows snapshots of a handful of very different women—veiled, unveiled, funky, wearing a niqab, cool—who turn out to be friends and meet each other in a café.
“Messages between Women” is a one-of-a-kind experience that exposed several unexpected talents; for some, it was life-changing.

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