Although it has been three years since the death of the iconic star Faten Hamama, she is still remembered as an iconic figure of Egyptian cinema, one whose roles addressed every issue encountered by women in Egypt.
Women in Egypt and around the world face major challenges; some of them suffer from domestic violence, inequality, problems in education, harassment, and other issues presented and discussed in cinema. Hamama was the first to explore these challenges in her roles.
The ultimate Egyptian women’s anniversary memory marks next Sunday, 27 May, in correspondence to her birthday same day in 1931. Daily News Egypt celebrates her anniversary in a alternate way by presenting some of her films, where she shed light on different women’s issues.
Amna deals with honour crimes and sexual exploitation of domestic servants
Hamama embodied the character of a rebellious rural girl called Amna, who rebels against the customs and traditions of Upper Egypt, where she defies women’s oppression, especially in that area of the country, through the film Du’aa Al-Karawan (The Nightingale’s Prayer).
Amna’s sister Hanady was working as a servant for a single irrigation engineer. She falls in love with him, then he promises to marry her, exploiting her sexually.
After becoming pregnant, Hanaday told her mother that she had a sexual relationship with the engineer, then the news reached her uncle, who killed Hanady in front of her sister Amna.
Amna wanted revenge for her sister from the engineer so she implemented a plan to obtain her sister’s right.
Through the film, Hamama touched the issue of the sexual exploitation of domestic servants in depth.
The film dealt with the issue of society’s injustice towards women, in matters of honour, and how females become the only culprit who may be punished, even by losing their lives at times, while no one judges or punishes men.
The story was inspired by the novel of renowned Arab writer Taha Hussein and the film was ranked sixth among the top 10 films in the history of Egyptian cinema.
It was released in 1959 and directed by Henry Barakat.
Fatma, the female lawyer who calls for equality
Hamama discussed the idea of working women and proving their ability to achieve success through her portrayal of Fatma in the film “Ostaza Fatma” (Professor Fatima).
The film revolves around Fatma and Adel, who studied law together and loved each other. They then both opened their own law firms, but Fatma was not as successful as Adel in the profession because clients did not believe in the ability of women to work as lawyers.
Despite Adel’s lacking faith in Fatma’s abilities as a lawyer, he asked her to defend him after being accused of murder.
Fatma see this as an opportunity to prove herself as a lawyer, capable of winning difficult cases.
Hamama, through this film, dealt with the problem of community’s lack of confidence in female workers in general and in female lawyers in particular.
The heroine proved that women can be as successful as men; in the film, she won the murder case.
Hamama, through her portrayal as Fatma in the movie, called for equality between men and women, and proved that women are able to bear loads and pressure of work, and that they can outperform some of men at work.
The film was released in 1952, directed by Fatin Abdel Wahab, and written by Aly El Zarakany.
Mona reflects challenges facing widows
Hamama took us from problems of female workers to widows’ struggles through her portrayal of Mona in Emberatoriet Meem (Empire M).
Mona reflects the challenges that widowed women face in the middle class, as she strives to be both a father and mother for her children, especially when the children are teenagers.
Mona in the film, works as an executive in the Ministry of Education. She falls in love with a man named Ahmed, who proposes to her. However, she becomes torn between her children’s refusal of her possible new marriage and her love for Ahmed.
Mona reflects the character of a strong woman who bears the hardships of life, but also enjoys life at the same time.
The film dealt with a very important issue, which is women’s deprivation from marrying again because of their children.
Emberatoriet Meem was released in 1972, directed by Hussein Kamal, and written by Ehsan Abd El Kodos.
Hamama took us from the problems that widows face in the middle class to the problems that they face in the lower class through her role in the film “Youm Helw Youm Mor,” (Good Day, Bad Day).
Hamama embodied the character of poor widow Aisha, who struggles to get rid of her debts and provide a better life for herself and her children.
The film was released in 1988, directed by Khairy Beshara, and written by Fayez Ghaly.
Doria called on changing the personal status law
Hamama proved that cinema plays a role in changing society and the law. Her role in the film “Orid Hallan” (I Need A Solution) paved the way to changing the personal status law in Egypt after the film’s screening. Former president Anwar Al-Sadat and his wife Jehan decided to change the personal status law in 1987, making several amendments to the legilsation.
The story of this film revolves around Doria, who works as a translator in a newspaper. She asked for a divorce from her diplomat husband Medhat, but he refused to do so, so she went to court to file a divorce case.
Doria fights the divorce battle between her husband’s tricks and the personal status law.
Hamama, through the character of Doria, reflected the experience of a woman who suffers to get a divorce under the unfair personal status law, and throughout the film, Doria demands that the law treat her equally to men.
The film, released in 1975, was directed and written by Said Marzouk.
Nema presented the issue of forcing girls to marriage to solve the marital burdens
Hamama, through her portrayal of Nemat in “Afwah wa Araneb” (Mouths and Rabbits), reflects women’s fight against poverty, especially when accompanied by a large number of family members.
Nemat in the film worked at a farm to make a living for her family. She was also financially responsible for her sister, her husband, and their children. Her sister then surprises her by saying that her family also wants to get rid of poverty in their own way, through an agreement with an elderly illiterate poultry dealer marrying Nemat.
According to the deal, the marriage will happen if he will in return provide a good life for them and provide employment for other family members. Nemat learned of the agreement by chance when she told her sister that she loved someone.
The film discussed two important issues: the first is forcing girls to marry in order to solve family financial burdens, while the second is the issue of family planning.
The film was produced in 1977, directed by Henry Barakat, and written by Samir Abdul Azim.